I am quite fortunate in that my research has several potential applications, making it easier to find suitable funding opportunities, particularly with the recent emphasis on translational research and economic feasibility. But there comes a point when I grow tired of trying to turn a particularly interesting set of reactions into an idea fit for a specific purpose. Sometimes I would just like the opportunity to try something out without it being a major research project.
Where is the seedcorn funding? Where are the small budget schemes designed to encourage risk-taking? For that matter, where is the basic science research funding?
I can plan my research to involve small steps, each logically following on from the previous, each perhaps novel enough for additional funding. That’s fine, logical and progressive. But what if I have a sudden bolt of chemistry-related inspiration? Do I really have to scrape around to find the funding needed to guide it into the realms of possibility?
We need the big grant schemes and we need to promote collaboration. We also need the small schemes to nurture our ideas and enable them to blossom into the world-altering discoveries of the future.
The Undercover academic is a university lecturer in the UK