Financing for the academic study of unknown areas and nascent technologies is difficult to obtain, because the benefits of knowledge creation from the unknown have traditionally been derived from individuals and institutions which are truly non-profit. The search for answers to questions where there is no immediate benefit for knowing the answers is difficult at best.
The competition for research funding is between those seeking to create something useful, as opposed to those studying and possibly understanding something, which may have some benefit in the future for creating something useful. In other words, research money is sought for learning how to do or create something, instead of just understanding something for the first time, without there being the prospect of a targeted reward.
Therefore, in order to broaden the sources of financing for those dedicated to basic research they or others must define the possible and probably societal or commercial benefits, in the event that the sought-for-knowledge is learned.
Of course, the prospect for creation and protection of intellectual property will be necessary in many if not most of the cases.
I believe that all basic research can be structured so that there can be benefits for all concerned if the research is successful and I would welcome the opportunity to be an advisor in this structuring process.
Arthur Lipper, Chairman
British Far East Holdings Ltd.
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