Sir, – There is a delicate balance between funding fundamental and applied science. The current Irish science policy of concentrating almost exclusively on the latter assumes that quick economic return comes purely from spin-offs.
It forgets where the ideas so ripe for exploitation come from, how the exploiters become aware of these ideas, and how they recruit the necessary expertise.
Liam Madden (July 6th) makes valid points about the different roles played by originators and developers, but the key issue is maintaining a bridge between the two. Cern worked with industry to provide the magnet technology to steer the protons in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC); this technology is now used for power generation and transmission. Semiconductor detectors used in the LHC, partly funded by Science Foundation Ireland, are now used for medical imaging at Clatterbridge Hospital in England.
Channels of communication must exist between scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs. Our knowledge economy needs balance for health. – Yours, etc,