Dominion Post: Scientists need to be entrepreneurs

Opinion piece in the Dominion Post by Godfrey Bridger, a business consultant, Foundation for Research, Science and Technology reviewer and a former Crown Research Institute science manager.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“Businesspeople are unlikely to become scientists, but scientists can become businesspeople.

“Therefore business managers should mentor scientists to take greater control and motivate them to learn to make business judgments over their own work.

“Another problem is that the fundamental plank of the Upton science reforms was to use competition to improve RS&T performance. The reforms have caused several problems, including the following three:

“* First, a funding system which peer reviews our most intelligent, creative, motivated and over peer-reviewed people and then “fails” more than 75 per cent of their proposals because of insufficient research funds is bad for morale, and makes science an unattractive profession.

“* Second, competition discourages collaboration and sharing, a vital requirement for R &D, and even more vital in a tiny country like New Zealand.

“* And third, the overheads of servicing a competitive $476 million funding system are too high. The relatively modest $17 million cost of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology is the “tip of the iceberg”. Other overheads include the time spent by our best scientists writing proposals doomed to fail, and the continuing cost of lack of collaboration.”