Why basic curiosity driven research is just as important as translational investment

The government recently announced their funding plans for the future of science in the UK.  As in most sectors funding is not set to rise with the budget being frozen at £4.6Billion.  There is an increase on infrastructure and facilities from £0.6Billion to £1.1 Billion, rising in line with inflation until 2020-21.  The budget gives an extra £185 million to the Technology Strategy Board, involved in business-led research projects.  These trends, are, at least to me, not surprising given the current economic climate and mantra of the dominant political party in the UK, private is better and commercialization is the way out of recession.  Unfortunately buildings do not make discoveries, people do and although investment in translation is welcome and necessary I believe basic research suffers as a consequence, particularly what is commonly referred to as ‘small’ or ‘little’ science (projects funded with a relatively small amount of money compared to larger science projects).  Science is Vital (http://scienceisvital.org.uk/) finding that of 868 polled UK researchers, 70% of junior scientists have lost confidence in research careers in Britain, 59% stating their grant success rate has fallen with Jennifer Rohn stating that ‘Frustrated young researchers are leaving’.  I was not a participant in the study but I have to say that pretty much sums it up.

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