About Tar Pits and Death Valleys

What is wrong with the logical steps Research – Innovation – Entrepreneurs – Investment – (sustainable) Economy?

Nothing, but there is something wrong with the spaces between those steps.

Some time ago, I received from Lars Jernbäcker from the Saab Group a chart that illustrates the issue. If the chances that a poor research project ends up as a bleached skeleton in the scientific desert are that high, one cannot even imagine what will happen during the rest of the voyage?

 

Courtesy Lars Jernbäcker

 

The question is of course: why?

Running the obvious risk of not being scientifically complete, here are some of the why’s:

 

  1. Welcome to the lottery. A maze of institutes, funds, loans, centers, initiatives and supportive activities make it practically impossible for a researcher to find an easy way to finance his or her efforts. Many projects never make it, simply because the administration and the required effort of needless paperwork make the chances for success like a lottery. There is a tremendous opportunity for the public administration to simplify and clarify the path for funding and subsidizing.
  2. We are happily floating in suspension with no top down drive, nor bottoms-up push. Joe the business man has lost his understanding of and even empathy with research. It is considered as a luxury that is no longer affordable, except perhaps for large enterprises. And partially this has been inflicted by the researchers themselves, not able to express how a breakthrough will drive new business. That business link needs to be clearly expressed, certainly during an economic downturn.
  3. He who has the full picture, please stand up. The scattered landscape of universities, research centers, incubation centers, venture capitalists and private companies is mirrored in the way public funding is distributed … without any cohesion. Whatever public private partnership (PPP) or investment (PPI), it has to take the full value chain into account. And it has to focus on the links between research, innovation, entrepreneurs, investment and economy. The underlying issue that needs to be solved is that all of these institutes are competing for the same amount of available funding, so there is no incentive at all to think big. And the ones who do, find them selves stuck in the tar pits between those steps. They don’t move an inch.

With these three points as guiding principles to reform the current policies we will go a long way to provide water to the death valleys.

 

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