Galicia will duplicate its number of scientists in four years.
That’s what El Pais says on 20 December 2006. The new Galician Plan for Innovation, Science and Technology 2006-2010, just presented to the public, will spend 800 million € in order to create its own “Silicon Valley”, foster private funding of research and create several technology centres. The report mentions that an “investors’ club”, based on the concept of “business angels” imported straight from the USA, will be created for this purpose. Oh my god.
Why can’t they see that they are screwing up an already screwed up situation?
I have already talked about this here and here. To say it again and summarise: industry is made of private companies. Private companies have the primary goal of making profit, and therefore will only participate in research that is more or less guaranteed to bring money in. This means low risk, tight control and reduced exploration of the solution space. Precisely the opposite of what research is. Research, in order to obtain results, needs high risk, loose control and free exploration of the solution space.
I don’t think industry is the place to do research. Business managers don’t know research, and they are not supposed to. I’m not going to repeat the reasons I gave in my previous posts on this matter (go and read them). Let’s leave industry to its job, i.e. turn knowledge into products and profit, and let’s leave true researchers do theirs: create knowledge from money. Industry/research joint projects should be the exception, not the rule. Decouple the two.
Let’s leave researchers do whatever they want as long as they have the resources. Absolutely what they want. Yes, with no utility constraints. That’s right. And let’s have industry examine research outcomes and select what they like to turn it into goods.
Let’s have public money fund true research rather than give it to companies that may invest it in dubious ways. Let’s require industry to fund itself to explore research outcomes and productise what they feel like. But let’s stop giving our taxes to multinationals, for Pete’s sake!
And for the business angels, the investors’ club and the Galician Silicon Valley… well. That won’t work. It works in the USA because they go to bed early and don’t talk football during the coffee breaks.