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I have to confess to never having heard of the McGuinness Institute before reading their in-depth report into Government-funded science last night.

Science Embraced: Government-funded science under the Microscope didn’t come with the fanfare that recent reports like Powering Innovation did, but it will get people thinking about the science system and how well geared-up we are to undertake the innovation-based transformation of the economy the Government so eagerly seeks.

The report opens a can of worms – it identifies 30 “policy knots” holding back science and outlines a number of “myths” about the science sector in New Zealand, namely:

Myth 1: More New Zealand research leads to more New Zealand development.
Myth 2: New Zealand research informs New Zealand public policy.
Myth 3: Science ethics are embedded in science practice.
Myth 4: ‘Innovation’ is a useful term to drive the government-funded science system.

It suggests that the Crown research institute model of conducting publicly-funded science in New Zealand is wrong:

…over the last twenty years government has wrongly put its effort into creating a dynamic and creative government-funded science system, in particular through the establishment of CRIs. In contrast, we believe the role of government should be two-fold: to create a stable and evidence-based government-funded science system while at the same time working with the private sector to help make it more dynamic and creative.

It also presents what it suggests could be a strategy blueprint for the science sector:

strat info

If you are thinking, as I was, “who are these guys?”, there’s plenty of background on the website. Professor Sir Paul Callaghan penned the foreward to the report concluding:

This document provides the basis for a conversation that needs to be happening across New Zealand.

And I agree. You won’t agree with everything, but this report is the basis for some good discussion about the issues we face in improving our science system and the science-based outcomes we want for the country. I encourage you to read it and to leave her feedback on it in the comments below.