Technological knowledge created through government R&D investment not only contributes to technology and market expansion, but is also a major factor in evaluating a nation’s innovation capacity. As government budgets are limited, establishing an effective investment strategy is important. The purpose of this paper is to suggest R&D investment priorities in terms of the centrality of knowledge diffusion—which technology field is targeted in knowledge diffusion—and rapidity of knowledge diffusion—how quickly technological knowledge diffuses. The analysis focused on a water resources R&D program led by the Korean government. The centrality and rapidity of knowledge diffusion were analyzed using network analysis and patent citation information, respectively. By showing that results differ depending on whether centrality or rapidity are used to rank investments, the findings suggest the need for multiple analyses when establishing an R&D investment strategy. Moreover, this study expanded analysis of knowledge diffusion to the second diffusion, and confirmed that, when the rapidity of knowledge diffusion through the second diffusion is considered, priorities for government R&D investments change. The results have useful implications for R&D investment by identifying investment priorities in the water resources sector, and changes in those priorities when mid- to long-term knowledge diffusion is considered.
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