Thursday, March 04, 2010

CRI Freedom

The Crown Research Institute Taskforce has landed with a crash, bang and a strong whiff of ammonia. The Science Media Centre has the information here. Science Minister Mapp was on Nine to Noon making encouraging sounds. 95bFM had Peter Griffin talking about it at the beginning of this clip.

All in all it sounds like a good report. Funding rounds should be moved from 2 to 5 year contracts, giving the gronks more time to do work instead of chasing funding. Fair go. Richard Feynman fucking hated admin. It's a useless distraction from what's important. This is the same physicist who said screw government.

The requirement that CRIs return a minimum nine percent return to the government each and every year looks to be on the way out. This is one policy u-turn I'm glad the Key government is performing. Hell, even Gareth Morgan can't pull off returns at that level.

There should be more co-operation between CRIs, as opposed to the competitive model currently used. Any Sesame Street muppet this side of Oscar the Grouch could tell that co-operation is the way to go.

While NZ R&D is well below our trading partners', the big surprise was seeing just how slack the private sector is at pulling their weight. There's some good graphs over at Vincent Heeringa's prophetic look at New Zealinstan at Idealog. You can almost see what Labour was getting at with their research tax credit (All the same, it was too late and too lame a policy which deserved to be shot).

The CRIs should offer an olive branch to private industry to see how they might help them become more productive. Many of our parochial business patriarchs are pretty set in their ways. It'll take a bit of a mindshift for them to accept a little broadening of their horizons. It wasn't that long ago when I was working in a meat exporting head office, showing the CEO how to bookmark a webpage.

My two cents to add on; I am flabbergasted at the NZ banks' flat ignorance of R&D. They assume R&D is only for devising ever more elaborate ways to milk debt off their customers. Not one of them has a specialist in R&D investment. That is left to NZ's pissant little venture capital markets. It's all too hard for Ira Goldstein, especially when you've got the Property Monster to suck off.