The Past vs The Future

In times of austerity how much priority should R&D get?

The European and American governments are under pressure to cut their budgets. The basic issue is whether to support people through social spending or support future industrial competitiveness through funding science.

With a third of Europe’s budget being spent on agriculture, it should be a no-brainer that future industrial competitiveness is more important than propping up farmers.

Should be – but there’s the French to contend with.

In America, the SIA and SRC are trying to persuade Congress not to cut funds for basic semiconductor R&D.

SIA president Rich Templeton argues that funding for bodies like the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science should not be subject to upcoming cuts.

‘Federal R&D investments are in jeopardy and imminent across-the-board budget cuts – known as the sequester – are set to reduce federal investments in R&D, which could have long-term implications on job creation and economic growth,’ argued the SIA.

Larry Sumney, president of the SRC, says: “Collaboration among industry, academia and government accelerates knowledge advancements, lowers risk and enables growth and innovation to continue for the benefit of industry and society as a whole. It represents a win-win-win.”

Sumney claimed that basic research has a ‘dramatically increased chance for success and return-on-investment when managed as part of a collaborative public-private programme.

“Today’s technology-based economy critically depends on a robust university research enterprise — producing fundamental scientific advances and, just as importantly, well-educated scientists and engineers who can compete in a global economic playing field,” said Sumney, “what’s not easy is finding the resources, the brightest minds and the funds, to fuel that research, especially in challenging economic periods.

‘The SRC community has published more than 20 percent of the world’s semiconductor-related research,’ claims the corporation

Fortunately for Europe, EC vice president Neelie Kroes is fighting to get an €80bn tech support budget for 2014-20 through the European parliament. Whether she can prevail against the agricultural and other lobbyists is a moot point.

It’s a battle between the past and the future.


One comment

  1. This is only one part of the equation, if the US does not lower corporate taxes then all the ideas funded by R&D dollars will end up in factories in Asia. If they do not do both then as a tax payer, I am asking what is my ROI with R & D funding. Certainly is not providing jobs for by kids.

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