I would like to add...
That the "horizons" of science have broadened spectacularly in just the last 10 years, let alone the last 100. There could be equal value down the road from studying ecology, manufacturing or genetics. Remember when we had roughly 3 umbrellas for science, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Those days are gone.
It is true that more money =/= more revolutionary ideas. It does however == more educated people and more specific knowledge. Researchers literally have to prove novelty to be awarded a PhD. It is a fundamental requirement. Whether the specific knowledge directly spawns productivity advancements is quite irrelevant. Eventually it will be required. Who would have thought that etching silicon using photolithography to build transistors would have spawned the internet in advance? From global data connectivity researchers now have even more access to information from further afield.
As a boffin myself, I have to say, what have economists ever given us? What cultural, social and technological value have they added?