Science and the value of broad horizons


Sir, – Dr Patrick Prendergast’s article provides an excellent argument for the value of national investment in fundamental research (“Fundamental research key to Irish culture of innovation”, Opinion & Analysis, September 24th).

Advances in science, and in its applications, rarely come solely from brilliant individuals; rather they emerge from teams and networks, often crossing borders of nations and companies. Many tech companies obtain much of their transferable technologies from outside the company, and they often share knowledge through participating in wider networks. While this is important for big companies and big countries, it is even more vital for small ones, and the way that a small country or business gains access to key science and technology networks is by having something important to bring to the table.

Investment in fundamental science is crucial to developing the brilliant people who can participate in these wider networks and bring home new ideas and knowledge.

Ireland has been a persistently effective participant in the EU Framework programmes in part because of the investments already made in good science at home. – Yours, etc,


Visiting Research Fellow,

Centre for Science

and Policy,

University of Cambridge.