26 June 2009
Sweden is home to the Karolinska Institute, one of the most effective bio-medical institutions in the EU. The worst thing the EU could do would be to copy Sweden; they are exemplary.
What should be left behind at the end of December is a commitment by member states to unleash the creativity in their research communities by doing three things:
1. government should broadly get out of the business of owning research infrastructure such as state-owned research laboratories (give them away to universities), and remove civil service status to many of its researchers; there is ample evidence of government failure in research commercialisation (Futuroscope anyone?)
2. stop hoarding publicly-funded intellectual property, and let industry acquire and commercialise more easily; the Commission has recognised the game-changing impact in the US of the Bayh-Dole Act;
3. recognise that competition between EU member states only fragments research infrastructure, undermines synergies and in the end causes researchers and investment capital to flee to other areas; however, while efforts to knit researchers together in pan-EU research communities only works up to a point — world-class research infrastructure may not work in quite that way, and this is a challenge to the use of research funding as an instrument of European integration– it may in the end make people feel good, but may not be value for money if competitiveness and innovation are the end goals.
There is an international market in good ideas, and research, while investment money does not respect national borders. The sooner Europeans understand this, the more sense they can make of innovation and competition in the modern world.
It seems to me that no one is breaking down the EU’s research doors to get in!