Missing missions

January 12, 2012

Even though our economy is a small fraction of that of the US, the budgets of the National Science Foundation and Research Councils UK were more or less equal ($6 billion and £3 billion) as little as two years ago. Something is wrong here if US universities receive only the same level of funding for blue-skies research as we do.

The difference, of course, is the large number of mission agencies in the US that we don't have. I would swap the budgets of RCUK and the Technology Strategy Board and allow academics to bid to the latter for properly mission-oriented projects. That would offer a better balance for the future of the UK economy and society.

Michael Kelly, Prince Philip professor of technology, University of Cambridge

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