Utilitarian funding rules will stifle science, says Sir Mark Walport « Ninth Level Ireland
“New science funding rules that prioritise studies with anticipated economic or social benefits are misconceived and risk stifling discovery and understanding, according to the head of Britain’s biggest independent supporter of research …” (more)
The initiative will place needless constraints on research while asking scientists to make impossible predictions about what their experiments will reveal, he said. The Wellcome Trust, which as Britain’s biggest biomedical research charity awards more than £600 million in grants every year, is taking the opposite approach to funding, by backing talented scientists and then allowing them to pursue the questions they think most important.
Policy makers, please listen. Research is a decades-long process, and harvesting the riches of research takes time. Harvard and MIT didn’t just fall out of the sky about four and a bit years ago, and Nokia, as discussed here previously has a history extending back to the 1800’s. Returns from this form of investment take a long time to come, but as this report and this report show, the returns are huge and sustained over very long periods of time. The Executive Summary of the Wellcome Trust report is available here.