The New Zealand science system, and its connection with the real world, needs to be much more flexible, and allow seamless movements between academia, business and policy worlds.
Speaking recently at the NZ Academy of Sciences conference in Wellington, the Prime Minister’s chief science advisor Peter Gluckman says “if Americans can do it, so can we.”
“We need much more permeability; allowing our scientists to move between academia, society, business and government,” Gluckman says. “We can’t have silos of people remaining in one spot, and this rotational attitude needs to become commonplace.”
Though the desire may be there on Gluckman’s part, some academics can look down their noses at scientists/technologists who operate at the industry level Royal Society president Garth Carnaby told the conference. At the same time, unlike most American tertiary institutions, once a scientist leaves a university, it’s extremely difficult to get back in.
Carnaby says it’s perfectly acceptable for academics to pursue a purity of scientific research, but that shouldn’t diminish scientists looking for specific answers to ways to make more income for industry.
Many academics won’t necessarily be interested in the development side of science, though Carnaby’s experience is that 15-20% of scientists do have such an entrepreneurial bent.
He says there needs to be scientific recognition for technologists that is beyond simply the number of papers published in prestigious journals