Brussels, 12 Nov 2002
The role of universities, the barriers between academia and industry, conflicts between science and politics, and cultural differences were just some of the issues raised at the panel discussion on science and policy making at the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) launch conference on 11 November.
Stephen Benn from the UK's Royal Society of Chemistry said that national tensions between the worlds of science and politics exist. 'Politicians are often frustrated with scientists who cannot always provide the information they want, while scientists, who work with a long term view, often get frustrated with the shorter term views of politicians,' said Dr Benn.
A presentation by Murli Manohar Joshi, India's Minister for human resource development, science and technology, demonstrated that while there are cultural differences which affect approaches to science, views and objectives do still often overlap.
'Acceptance of scientific progress is not as widely spread in India as in the West,' said Minister Joshi, and the country is 'not yet spending two per cent of [its] GDP on science,' he added, but despite this, he described European and Indian scientific collaboration as 'joining hands in a quest for new knowledge.' His priority for those involved in science and policymaking was that 'science must have a human face.'
Referring to the EU goal of creating a knowledge based society, Professor Sue Iversen from the University of Oxford underlined the importance of world class research. Politicians and scientists need to work together to create a 'culture of innovation,' she said, emphasising the role that universities play in this process.
Universities provide continuity of training over many decades, said Professor Iversen, enabling them to provide transferable skills. At a time when many companies are decreasing their investment in research, many are also looking to research intensive universities to fill the gap, she added.
Professor Iversen also called for a dismantling of the barriers between industry and academia. 'We have it in our power to be more proactive and to actually do something,' she said.