from the urls-we-dig-up dept
In lean times like these, it’s getting tougher to get funding for science and technology research, especially for innovative but high-risk ideas. It’s no surprise that both the government and the private sector seem to feel more comfortable investing their money in more conservative “sure thing” efforts these days. While the scientific funding system is far from perfect, some of the attempts to “fix” it are making it even worse. Here are just a few (good and bad) examples.
- Canada’s scientific research and development agency, the National Research Council, has announced that it will now only conduct research that has “social or economic gain.” Apparently, the President of the NRC actually said, “Scientific discovery is not valuable unless it has commercial value.” Unfortunately, that’s one giant leap backwards for mankind. [url]
- U.S. House of Representatives chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) is proposing to replace the National Science Foundation’s peer review process with a new set of funding criteria chosen by Congress. Smith’s “High Quality Research Act” would require the NSF to judge grants based on three criteria — that the research will: advance national health, prosperity, welfare, and security; solve problems that are important to society at large; and not duplicate other research projects being funded by the government. [url]
- On a more positive note, the Thiel Foundation’s Breakout Labs is aiming to change the way early-stage science is funded. Their grants of up to $350,000 over 1-2 years will enable startups to chase some risky ideas with groundbreaking potential, returning a small percentage of any commercial success back to Breakout Labs to help fund the future ventures. [url]
If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.