Apparently, India’s annual expenditure on nanotechnology development is about $7M. (See this news report for more details.) Compared to government expenditure in the US ($1.5B) and in Europe (UK over $300M and France over $300M) it’s a small amount. (Note: The numbers change all the time so think of these ones as a rough guide.) According to the report, more money is being allocated, in the near future, to nanotechnology efforts in India. (The upcoming India-Canada nano meeting in Edmonton has sparked my interest in Indian nanotechnology.)
Cientifica’s new report called The Nantotechnology Opportunity Report (NOR) 2008 (executive summary available for free here) looks funding and various nanotechnology sectors globally. The full report is over 1000 pages. Interestingly, the authors single out India in their executive summery by offering an analysis of what happens to their government funding. Hint: it’s not good news. They admit that the problem exists in Europe too but here’s where they damn all government funding everywhere,
So, when we are looking at government funding, the fact that around a third of projects are managed by total incompetents with project officers in various funding bodies turning a blind eye to avoid having to justify their decisions has to be taken into consideration. Couple that with the fact that much curiosity driven research yields no results and our figure of 90% of academic research cash going down the plughole looks about right.
In the paragraph which directly follows (and the really good part),
Of course from our point of view we want to see an economic effect, but that is not to say the 90% of non-commercial research is wasted, it just adds to the ever swelling body of scientific knowledge which speeds up our future understanding.
Let’s start with the littlest thing, the ‘sweliing’. Generally speaking and leaving aside any references to sex, this is not something you want to experience. Now, let’s add in the fact that they’ve were talking about money in the previous paragraph and that a “swollen” or “swelling” budget is bad. Intentionally or not, it cancels out what appears to be a faint attempt at fairness but that’s not my biggest problem with this.
Here’s my real problem. They say, 90% of government funded research is wasted (first para) but 90% of the non-commercial research is not wasted (2nd para). Overall, the thinking here seems a little muzzy. and based on what I’ve seen in the executive summary I have doubts about the rest of their material.