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Time for pure research?

Last Updated on Sunday, 01 December 2013 20:49
Published on Wednesday, 26 April 2006 00:00
Is the Government putting too much pressure on the research councils to have an economic impact at the expense of blue skies research?

In evidence to the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons on 19 April, the CEO of PPARC, Professor Keith Mason denied there was any conflict between basic research and knowledge transfer when evaluating funding applications.

'We have a purely science peer review stage which decides whether something is fundable or not and we have a separate element that looks at the knowledge transfer aspects and identifies where funding can be best used to fund direct knowledge transfer activities making sure that happens in the most efficient way...for a number of years… (there has been a) requirement to state what the end-use was ...( but) that is not part of the decision to fund or not to fund'

'In a typical grant there might be 20 pages on the science and one page on knowledge transfer; that is the balance. The science question has primacy and it quite clearly says in the guidelines that the science questions have primacy. The question is how do you put in added value to those investigations in order to realise the knowledge transfer aspects as well? The whole point... is to generate a culture in which new ideas can flourish, and that includes what you might call the knowledge transfer aspects as well as the pure science... in our field the two go hand-in-hand. You need the new technology developed in order to do the science and the science drives the technology developments so they go hand-in-hand in many cases...If there is no knowledge transfer aspect of a proposal then the investigator can write down, "There is no knowledge transfer aspect of this proposal" and we will make a judgment accordingly and if we agree then there is no issue'

A fuller version of the exchanges is available here pdf_small Knowledge Transfer - March 2006.pdf (36.90 KB 26.04.2006 12:06)

The complete text is available on the Committee's web site HERE