The relationship between science and technology has been subject to intense discussions for centuries. Science was largely funded via patronage during the Renaissance, and separation of public funding for fundamental research and private industrial funding for applied research and commercial innovation efforts only emerged in the 19th century (1, 2). Since the aftermath of World War II, policymakers have relied on the notion that science helps to generate knowledge and information that ultimately contributes to the emergence of new technical and organizational capabilities, improvements in quality of life, and economic growth (3). Vannevar Bush’s vision of a publicly funded science system that feeds into privately organized innovation channels became the blueprint for most of the Western national systems of science funding, research and development, and innovation. This notion has recently come under scrutiny again, as voters have increasingly been demanding evidence on the benefits of science spending. For policymakers and scientists alike, it is tantamount to improve the understanding of the impact of science on technical progress and innovation.