Scrutinizing Science

If it is Thursday I must be in Lithuania, and that meant spending the morning having the usual discussion with local entrepreneurs and scientists about how to get commercial activities up and running, and with the European Commission about putting up some cash for it. To be fair the European Commission does a great job  on funding science, but the parts of the beast responsible for stirring up enterprise and innovation don’t seem to be of much practical help.

By coincidence, a piece by Jim Hurd at the Nanoscience Exchange dropped into my in-box bemoaning the slow pace of commercialisation in the US. While I am not too convinced about the varying speeds of commercialisation of technologies – Europe and the US have different mechanisms so looking at VC funded start ups for instance would have only given a fair comparison in the dot com bubble – there is a lot of frustration at the slow pace of transfer from academia to industry.

But technology, like a good wine, takes time. If I handed my favourite wine maker or academic a million pounds, I would not expect any results for years. Unfortunately venture capital and politics works on shorter timescales.

Jim hits the nail on the head with his comments about over scrutinising research, something picked up by Oxford Analytica last year, although from this side of the pond (and the English Channel) I would say that Europe is getting the balance about right.


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