The Research

Engine Foundation conducts original research on high-tech entrepreneurial activity that informs our advocacy, outreach, and communications initiatives.

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Presented by Engine and Charles Koch Institute

Every second, Internet users across the world are posting their own content online, everything from their favorite restaurant to how-to videos on creating custom 3D printed objects. This boom in speech has enabled e-commerce to flourish, established trust between strangers, and fueled creativity in ways never imagined possible. To understand what drove the innovation that led to the success of the Internet, we seek to unpack the nuts and bolts of user-generated content and how it is regulated, moderated, and limited by laws and technology. This report explores the current legal framework for intermediary liability and the safe harbors that helped propel the Internet economy, including Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It will consider how platforms moderate content and the tools and technology currently available for platforms large and small. Finally, it will look at the international landscape and how other countries are looking to regulate user-generated content.


Presented by Engine, TechFreedom, Charles Koch Institute and the Congressional Tech Staffer Association

Encryption has been at the root of many everyday technologies we use. In the wake of notable breaches and heightened national security regimes, encryption policy has come to the forefront of policy debates in Washington, DC, and spread across the country. To facilitate an open discussion, Engine, TechFreedom, Charles Koch Institute and the Congressional Tech Staff Association held three briefings on how encryption actually works. The Nuts and Bolts series of briefings and this booklet summarizing the events aim to fill in the knowledge gaps so that when the decision-makers come to the table, they speak the same language - the language of encryption.



Nearly twenty years ago, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), establishing copyright rules specifically tailored for the online world. Although the DMCA has succeeded admirably in fostering the growth of the internet, some copyright industry representatives have advocated for a rewrite of the law to force OSPs to implement content filtering technologies as a prerequisite to obtain the protections of the DMCA's safe harbors. In evaluating these calls for mandatory filtering, policymakers should consider how such filtering tools actually work in practice and the impact they are likely to have on infringement, startup activity, and creative production.

This paper, co-authored by Engine's Evan Engstrom and Princeton University's Nick Feamster, examines the functionality and inherent limitations of the most common filtering technologies to demonstrate why a mandatory filtering regime would pose grave dangers to the viability of the internet ecosystem in exchange for a minimal effects on online infringement.



Our 21st century global economy is powered by data. In the same way machinery enabled the industrial revolution, recent improvements around our ability to capture, store, and analyze massive quantities of data have ushered in an incredible period of innovation. In industries ranging from education to healthcare to agriculture, American startups are harnessing "Big Data" to drive innovation and develop targeted solutions for some of society’s greatest challenges. This report highlights some of those startups and offers insights for policymakers seeking to foster innovation and social transformation while maintaining sufficient protections for the American public.

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An early look at the role and impact of the Knight Foundation's investments in Miami’s startup ecosystem.


While Miami is late to the game as a tech startup hub compared with Silicon Valley, New York, North Carolina’s Research Triangle and others, its emerging tech ecosystem leverages its proximity and connections to Latin America, as well as a robust entrepreneurial culture and diverse population.

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89% of investors said the current legal environment has a more negative impact on their investment decisions than the current economic climate


This paper surveys early stage investors throughout the world to determine how regulatory regimes impact their investment in companies that facilitate the distribution of digital content. Investors reported that their investment decisions were influenced largely by the prevailing legal environment and believed that ambiguous regulations, unduly harsh legal penalties, and liability for third party acts diminished their incentives to invest in online startups.

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This paper looks at high-tech employment and wage trends in the European Union (EU-27) between 2000 and 2011. Using a broad industry-occupation framework, we define high-tech workers as those employed in a high-tech industry or a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) occupation.

This comprehensive analysis of the high-tech workforce highlights the important role high-tech workers play in job creation, income generation, and economic growth.

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What consumers will pay to protect their location data, compared to $4.05 for their contacts

This paper shows the differentiated “utility” (i.e. happiness, satisfaction, etc.) users derive from smartphone applications, and the value they place on their privacy in that exchange. Most smartphone apps are “free” to consumers, but in exchange for these “free” apps, consumers “pay” for them by granting access to some personal information.

Alternatively, many apps offer various pay-for options. Often, these have additional features, but most importantly they allow consumers to keep their information private. In short: consumers can either "pay" with money or with their information. This tradeoff is at the heart of the study.

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This report moves the existing body of research forward by contrasting job creation and business formation dynamics in the entire U.S. private sector with those in the high-tech sector. We find that new and young firms, not small businesses in general, are the key drivers of net job creation, and while these businesses start small, they grow rapidly and contribute positively to net job creation overall.

We also found that high-tech startups exist in a diverse set of regions throughout the United States. Of course, tech hubs like Silicon Valley, Cambridge, Seattle, and San Francisco play an important role, but a number of smaller cities are also having an increasing impact.

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The creation of 1 high tech job is projected to create 4.3 other jobs in a local economy

This report analyzes patterns of high-technology employment and wages in the United States. It finds not only that high-tech jobs are a critical source of employment and income in the U.S. economy, but that growth in the high-tech sector has increasingly been occurring in regions that are economically and geographically diverse.

The report also finds that the high-tech sector–defined here as the group of industries with very high shares of workers in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math–is an important source of secondary job creation and local economic development.

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This interactive data visualization was launched during the party nominating conventions that illustrates the geographically diverse nature of technology hubs in the U.S.

Engine is committed to tracking the close connection between innovation and entrepreneurship. 

Explore the map