Science and Technology Research, by Clive Cookson

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Related to the lack of scientific innovation is the absence of a risk-taking entrepreneurial culture, which is reflected in turn in a shortage of venture capital to fund companies spun out of research laboratories or universities. Lam Kong-Peng, director of Singapore’s Biomedical Research Council, talks of the need “to educate Asian investors, who tend to be more cautious than western investors”.

“We are trying to create a new risk-taking culture of innovation and entrepreneurship,” agrees Jackie Yi-Ru Ying, director of Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology. Venture capitalists in Asia “do not have the experience or the interest in getting involved in early-stage seed funding”…For many in Asia, indeed, innovation is not just helpful in breaking into foreign markets but essential in improving lives closer to home. There is recognition that the only way to overcome the continent’s many problems, from poverty to pollution, is through science and technology.

Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, says that even space programmes – sometimes regarded as a sign of national vanity – justify themselves by improving quality of life through earth observation and communications satellites. “Our main aim is to bring the benefits of high technology to the people – and poor people in particular,” he says.
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Source: Financial Times