True blue-sky research is becoming a thing of the past, fears Donald Braben, visiting professor at University College London, UK, who wants to see the trend reversed.
True blue-sky research is becoming a thing of the past, fears Donald Braben, visiting professor at University College London, UK, who wants to see the trend reversed. The problem? Money. Companies require that employees contribute to their core business, while academics are equally accountable for the money they spend. Braben believes that this mentality is ’choking human ingenuity’ resulting in less technical progress and increasing economic decline.
Since the early 1970s, science has become increasingly controlled, with little money being allocated for innovative research. Even when such funds are available Braben points out that this is for ’light-blue’ research only; research mainly into derivative products and with specific goals. Braben wants companies, governments and research councils to fund truly deep-blue research, which has no limits and strives to answer important questions, a move backed by many scientists including David Giachardi, chief executive of the RSC.
Braben’s philosophy was put into action in 1990 with the launch of Venture Research International, a company with the sole purpose of raising and distributing funds to worthy, deep-blue causes. However, after over a decade, Braben can no longer support such research due to lack of funds from sponsors. But he believes so strongly in deep-blue sky research and its importance in retaining economic growth that he personally funds Venture Research International and has written a book - Pioneering research, A risk worth taking — to help get the message across to all scientists.