Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Don't Skimp on Basic Research

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Don't Skimp on Basic Research

Article excerpt

"We are eating our seed corn" says Paul M. Romer, a Stanford University economist when asked about the state of basic research by U.S. industry. In the 1990s, there has been no sharp increase in corporate research; instead, funding hasn't even kept pace with inflation.

The giant research machine ignited by World War II and sustained by the Cold War is winding down - and changing direction. The ground-breaking basic research funded by laboratories at AT&T, IBM, General Electric and DuPont, for instance, is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Facing little overseas competition and earning generous profits at home, these labs could finance fundamental research virtually without limit. The results: nylon, the silicon chip, the laser, gene technology and fiber optics, to name just a few.

But the rise of foreign competition and tighter profit margins have caused industry to shift more resources to applied research. No longer are scientists invited to work on anything they like. …

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