Science policy is an area of public policy which is concerned with the policies that affect the conduct of the science and research enterprise, including the funding of science, often in pursuance of other national policy goals such as technological innovation to promote commercial product development, weapons development, health care and environmental monitoring.
Science policy also refers to the act of applying scientific knowledge and consensus to the development of public policies.
Science policy thus deals with the entire domain of issues that involve the natural sciences.
In accordance with public policy being concerned about the well-being of its citizens, science policy's goal is to consider how science and technology can best serve the public.
The programs that are funded are often divided into four basic categories: basic research, applied research, development, and facilities and equipment.Translational research is a newer concept that seeks to bridge the gap between basic science and practical applications.
Basic science attempts to stimulate breakthroughs.
Breakthroughs often lead to an explosion of new technologies and approaches.
Once the basic result is developed, it is widely published; however conversion into a practical product is left for the free market.
However, many governments have developed risk-taking research and development organizations to take basic theoretical research over the edge into practical engineering.
In the U.S., this function is performed by DARPA.
On the other hand, technology development is a policy in which engineering, the application of science, is supported rather than basic science.
The emphasis is usually given to projects that increase important strategic or commercial engineering knowledge.
The most extreme success story is doubtless the Manhattan Project that developed nuclear weapons.
Another remarkable success story was the "X-vehicle" studies that gave the US a lasting lead in aerospace technologies.