There’s a good post by the Scientist Gardener on Investing in Innovation. It’s a response to James (who has Giant Corn) who commented on Research Funding in a post that I would have linked to at the time if I’d been up to speed after Christmas.
He makes the point that it’s not enough to have a good idea. I think a lot of the push for relevance or real-world results ignores that the Investment, Development and Marketing of new products all require non-trivial skills. Simply asking university departments to monetise their research takes funding away from what they’re (hopefully) good at — having ideas — and funnels it into what they’re not so good at.
It reminds me of the quote from John W. Gardner:
The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.
Could you say something similar about the society that scorns pure research, but exalts shoddy business?