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Showing posts from June, 2012

How to kill innovation

In a talk on innovation at the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften Juergen Mittelstrass , one of Germanys great living philosophers, added one more slot to the well-known classification of science, leaving us with:  'fundamental research', 'application-oriented research' and 'product-driven application-oriented research'. While he was obviously trying to grant some innovative-potential to research formerly known as 'applied', it soon became clear that innovation would be found rather in the first than in the last box and the terrain for the unexpected was shrinking as it is obvious that innovation by nature is nothing you can plan for and the application-pull would lead to optimizations, inventions, solutions but not to surprises. His critique of todays ever-growing emphasis on applicability in research-funding was massively amplified by Harald zur Hausen (Nobel-prize in medicine 2008), who reminded everybody that his ground-breaking r