More public money is needed for basic research.
We continue to read the statement by G-Science about Basic Research published in May 2020.
We come today to the part “Challenges”. In fact, the statement is about THE challenge: funding.
First, the academies declare that governements are the only possible stable source for basic research funding. Of course, thats makes of basic sciences knowledge and results a public good.
Because of the exploratory nature of basic research, and the need for healthy and stable funding, government is the key funding source in the advancement of new knowledge. Since much of the knowledge developed by basic research is publicly accessible and benefits global society as a whole, it is a public good that cannot easily be owned or restricted by individuals, institutions, or nations. Of course, not every basic research project will develop into immediately practical applications, yet those that do have a vast impact on humanity.
But, they remark, there is not enough public funding in most countries. IYBSSD 2022 promoters share this concern, and hope that an International Year will help to mobilize policy makers to this aim.
In many countries, however, public funding for basic sciences is inadequate, has stagnated, or is declining. Economic and political uncertainties, along with a research climate driven by short-term results and the hunt for scarce funding, have undermined investment in transformative ideas. Yet, now more than ever, the scale and complexity of global challenges demands revitalized investment in basic research to leverage the full spectrum of human ingenuity in devising insight and solutions.
Coporate and philanthropic funding of basic research, they insist, is good, but is not enough, and not only for amounts issues.
The chief concerns of government include full employment, public health and national security, whereas businesses are inherently focused on shareholder returns. Corporate and philanthropic funding of basic research is valuable and reaffirms the importance of cultivating new knowledge, yet its incentives remain different and do not provide a stable substitute for public funding of basic research. Public funding is unique in that it is more apt to ensure both open, creative inquiry and resource stability, as is needed for effective basic research.