BLUF

A joint European agency has been successful in adapting breakthroughs in science for commercial applications.

Summary

Expensive basic/big science projects are under political pressure to achieve commercial results. It’s not that easy, however, due to: 
  • Commercialising deep tech is challenging for scientists.
  • The market applications are often not obvious.
  • Typical funding is contingent on quick returns.
  • The high professional opportunity cost of diverting serious research towards business endeavours.
  • Basic science and business don’t understand each other.
  • Technology transfer bottlenecks.
Big science: 
  • Often needs new solutions to complex engineering problems.
  • Has unforeseen but useful spin-offs, e.g., self-driving cars.
A solution is the Attract Project which:
  • Supports researcher’s commercialisation efforts.
  • Brings together European research agencies.
  • Supports improving the sensing, imaging, detection, and computation technologies for basic science.
Focuses on:
  • Healthcare (utilising research from particle physics and astronomy).
  • Energy, agriculture and the Internet of Things. 
  • Makes large numbers of relatively small grants.
Note that the Australian 2020 Defence Strategic Update allocates $1.2 billion over ten years to innovation.