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Use-Inspired Basic Research Works

VU International News and Reviews No. 106 February 12 2018

February 2018

The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI and the Austrian Institute of Technology AIT have published their analysis of the Future & Emerging Technologies (FET) part of Horizon202: Visionary and Collaborative Research in Europe. Pathways to impact of Use-inspired Basic Research. Their analysis of 224 FET Open and FET Proactive projects and ensuing bibliometric  research shows high yield of the programme in terms of the number of publications, the standing of the journals, the number and breadth of citations (average citation rate of 6.1, higher than in physics). Comparing the high-risk FET research projects with venture capital projects which on average yield 10% of excellently performing projects, the comparable rate with FET projects was 19%. 83% of projects were assessed as ‘radically new’ and the (measured) impact on the economy and the (estimated) impact of society were also high.

In my note of Newsletter 105, I suggested the following basic request from society to academically excellent research:

“We want your work to focus on some unsolved problem out there in the world, in society.

It is OK not to aim for short term results and not to define the results before you start.

It is not OK to choose the topic of your studies without any ambition to help solve real problems.”

The FET analysis underlines that ‘use-inspired’ research can be just as fundamental, just as novel and just as successful as purely curiosity-driven research. QED.

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