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There’s two unanswered questions after day one of ‘Running Hot! 2010’, a Wellington conference about realising the value of research for New Zealand.

How do you measure value, and who is doing the measuring?

So far the closest thing to an answer is that of course basic research, or blue sky research, is important, and so is applied research.

From a country trying to make money from turning a good idea into income though, the answers are few and far between. In fact, it is totally unanswered.

Perhaps the reason is that there’s no industry representation among the 180 or so people attending – with the result that speakers are preaching to the converted.

The following notes of interest are provided, given a dearth of innovation and commercialisation focus. In no particular order, or even themes:

• The process of researchers justifying their research can provide linkages, which in turn makes a case for the research (Andrew Kibblewhite, The Treasury)
• The world of connections gained doing research is where unexpected outcomes occur. There needs to be an ability for research programmes to change as a result (Richard Blaikie, Canterbury University)
• Is there a requirement/need for scientific consultancies (similar, but different to engineering consultancies)? (Richard Blaikie again)
• In the U.K. there’s a move towards freeing up of universities’ IP. It’s not a way to make money (though universities haven’t been that successful at this anyway), but in a sense it is a kind of community service (Nigel Thrift, vice-chancellor, Warwick University, UK)
• The public can be ‘brought alone’ with regard to difficult scientific issues, “as long as universities don’t appear to be snotty” (Nigel Thrift again)
• The average 100 trillion cells in a human body would have 182 billion kilometers of DNA if all laid out end to end. That's about 610 times from the sun to the earth. (Justin O'Sullivan, Massey University)

‘Running Hot’ fails to answer its own premise

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