Monday, June 05, 2006

Can science get by without your tax money?

Roger NeedhamTerence Kealey, vice-chancellor of the UK's only private university, thinks that government science funding only displaces private sector research:

Contrary to myth, the private sector does tons of science — because it is so profitable. Consider IBM. The Times Higher Education Supplement’s survey last year showed that Harvard University’s science papers are the most cited globally (20.6 citations per paper on average) but coming in second was IBM (18.9), outranking all other universities and research bodies. And because IBM invests so much in science, it has for the past 12 years been awarded more patents (3,000 annually) than any other institution. And by its patents IBM earns more than $1 billion annually in licence fees.

This is difficult to believe for someone who has had and continues to receive funding from the UK government's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council ;) From a less biased perspective the late Prof. Roger Needham, head of Microsoft Research Cambridge and Cambridge University's Computing Laboratory for many years, put a powerful case for the government funding of pre-competitive computer science research.

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