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Don't let tight state finances kill Minnesota's high-tech dreams.
If the U of M thinks that more research funding is needed simply transfer funds from non- productive budget items, such as funding for tenured professors into research projects. Also, the approximate $1.4 billion dollars on hold from Education Minnesota could also be used in this endeavor.
Two points. Serious dialogue is going to be required between the U of M administration and the business community about research and job creation. Dr. Mulcahy has in fact recently gone public - in an unusual way - that is to be commended, as described in two excellent pieces in MedCity News by Thomas Lee - a former Stribber. Background may be found at: http://bit.ly/daZsCk The other important point concerns funding for reseach at the U of M. Every dollar brought in from the outside requires approximately thirty cents of UNREIMBURSED spending by the U. It is very important to understand this, because it implies that we will not grow out of our financial problems at the U by simply getting more grants. The U administration in the past has been less than candid about this. Some transparent mechanism is needed to cover this shortfall. Bill Gleason, U of M faculty and alum
Why do we have to keep throwing our money at research? That is what Private Businesses do. The state should keep its mitts out of R&D and let the private sector take care of it. They will make the smarter choices and only research what is important, rather than roads to nowhere like the state likes to research.
Anyone who thinks that the great advances in science and medicine are primarily the product of private R & D is oblivious to medical and scientific history.
of smart thinking for the longterm. Thank god we now have better cupholders in our vehicles thanks to private R&D instead of something silly like cancer research or biofuels research. I'm sure we can solve the world's problems with private research into which color computers people are more likely to buy, or hey, that newly redesigned mayonnaise container that Kraft is using is just awesome. Much better than research aimed at fixing water quality problems. We all know how much money private industry is throwing at R&D in water quality research to bust themselves.
Just today an effort was begun to incorporate Honeywell microturbines to power Ford hybrid cars (at the St. Paul plant), using advanced biofuels. The global market for efficient cars is exploding, but too much tax funded research is done on windmills and batteries that nobody can afford. Fighting the political money system kills more good ideas than it helps.
Only the best ideas (well, generally) are funded by NSF, NIH, NASA, USDA, etc. through competitive proposals. It's the epitome of the free-market system in terms of rewarding the best ideas with money. And it is absolutely necessary to have a branch of research that is separate from business, because business research is decidedly short-term to appease stockholders, and, well, heavily influenced by marketing gimmicks like cupholders, whereas federal/state research has a longer-term perspective and any ideas will do, not just immediately marketable ideas.
is that it kills minds from being more creative and taking greater chances. They are hamstrung by beaurcratic details and obligations, plus you have to hire a complete staff to monitor them. Sorry, but the mind will continue to work without the state funding every frog investigation by the whim of some whacko legislature.
In 1981, during a similar recession, I started pushing a fiber optic network to connect the rapidly developing microcomputer market. The U was a big problem, and the undertaking was only helped by business interests. (I could add much more, but not the issue here.) Today everybody on the planet wants a car but some new design is necessary. Yesterday the best political contacts were Michelle Bachmann's office and Rep. Bill Hilty. Most of the rest I only endure hate. So tell us how you will build economic growth in this competitive era with constraints. Don't just tell us you're smarter than everyone else, because you're not.
That comment says more about you and your insecurities than it does about anything I've said. There are smart, creative people in both the private sector R&D and in R&D at research institutions. All I said is that the focus of the research is different and we need both to get balance. I get tired of hearing the same old shpiel about how the market is sacred and can do everything we need if we just let it. It's not true at all, the market has a very narrow focus geared toward making profit. However, not everything that we value in our society can be reduced to marketing and profit. One of those things that we value is long-term vision, sustainability, passing on a better country to our grandchildren than we have now. Do you really trust a market geared toward quarterly reports and dividends to the shareholders to *not* cash in right now at the expense of our grandchildren? I sure don't. There are great things about the free market, but it isn't a cure-all -- sometimes it works better than government or higher institutions for R&D, sometimes it works worse. We need both.
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