Saturday, September 15, 2007

Brain Drain Continues: Another Missed Opportunity

Alan Trounson is going overseas to the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine. He is only acting rationally in the advancement of science and this is absolutely not a criticism of him. Rather, it is a criticism of government policies that fail to protect our investment in human capital by allowing our best scientists to go overseas due to a lack of funding for educational and research institutions. Science is a global enterprise and it is right and proper that our scientists travel and get experience in different contexts. However, Australia is hopeless at capturing the surpluses that our scientists create.

The loss is documented here

There is absolutely no reason why Australia can't be on the cutting edge of new technologies like this. Current intellectual property arrangements mean we do better as a net exporter of science and technology rather than as an importer. This means funding and keeping talent, then exporting the products they produce. Not exporting talent to a better funded US institution where the economic spillovers will be captured primarily by US companies. And not claiming that this loss of talent shows what good shape Australian science is in.

Another thing to think about: since it was sold by the government, CSL has gone from an institution that invested in vaccine research to a manufacturer of blood products with substantially less funding for research and development.

Is there something cultural or institutional that I'm missing that stops us from capturing the benefits of our investments in research? Please comment...

2 Comments:

Blogger C-MAC said...

Tap tap, is this thing on?

10:24 PM  
Blogger timboy said...

I think you could point to a number of reasons behind the lack of investment in stem cell research locally.

Tall Poppy syndrome

Anti-intellectualism

Neo-liberal economic policies- i.e. Government's opting not to picking winners through industry policy/ investing in R&D.

Conservate Social Policy- stem cell research- icky.

That's just a start.

Personally I don't really care where Prof Trounson does his research so long as people everywhere are able to benefit.

Good luck to him.

2:17 AM  

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