Technological innovation is rooted in basic sciences research, which produces knowledge without emergency. “Finders” need researchers.
The Covid-19 crisis has changed our perception of values, our relationship to time and immediacy… Has it allowed us to recover forgotten potentialities? Yes, without any doubt.
Completely improbable and unimaginable just a few months ago, the lock-down has taught us again how to wait. We realized that we could stay two months without going out from home and live simultaneously two kinds of time: short time with the instantaneity of social networks; and long time, with this forced stay at home.
Accepting to wait
We realized that we could do things differently. By putting the spotlight on the researchers, this period also highlighted the need to accept to wait to obtain access to solutions, about the virus, for example…
Waiting while supporting our caregivers on a daily basis. The reference to time and patience have thus developed under an accepted constraint for a better tomorrow.
Research for the long term
As discoverers of “nugget” innovations from public research, this long time is a strength. Research is a long-term process. It is not intended to produce immediate solutions.
Like the roots of a tree, it patiently, progressively and profoundly increases our knowledge about the world. And from this knowledge, from this scientific approach combining rigour and creativity, discoveries emerge that make the world grow.
Turning Deep Tech into solutions
It is our role as mediators to transform these Deep Tech, from the depths of science, into solutions, products or services, alongside committed researchers and entrepreneurs. In a word, to draw from the roots and bring out of this fertile soil beautiful shoots that can meet the major societal challenges of tomorrow.
There is a strong desire on the part of researchers to transform their results into solutions for society. We are working with them in this direction, and it takes time to bring these technological innovations to the market, to patients for instance.
No opposition between fundamental and applied
Nevertheless, the research sector is able of unprecedented responsiveness and agility when the situation asks for a special response, and it has just demonstrated this in this crisis we are experiencing.
We have to fight against an easy presentation aiming to oppose fundamental and applied research, researchers and finders, long and short time… It is a bad trial.
Opening up areas of knowledge today
The long time allows you to take a step back and think about the discovery. The effort in basic research is crucial. It is necessary to open up areas of knowledge today to provide solutions tomorrow.
Basic research needs this long time. There is nothing wrong there: we just have to be patient. Because it is with this long-term investment that we will be able to make progress and provide solutions to the challenges of tomorrow.
Sophie Jullian is President of Pulsalys, an incubator and accelerator of Deep Tech innovations at the University of Lyon, France.
This text was first published by Pulsalys.