Science - October 14, 2004

DSM top man talks at A&F

‘You hear so often nowadays that universities should be more involved in innovation,’ said Professor Emmo Meijer, director of research and development at chemical giant DSM.

‘But, honestly speaking, I think that’s a load of rubbish. Companies should be good at innovating and universities should be good at science. If companies want to outsource their innovation to universities, I think they are doing the wrong thing.’
Meijer, who is also part-time professor of chemistry at the TU in Eindhoven, was guest speaker at the symposium organised by Agrotechnology & Food Innovations (A&F) on Friday 9 October. Meijer paused to consider the often mentioned gap between fundamental research and applied science within companies. It’s not that he denies the existence of the gap, but he refuses to see it as a problem. ‘We make all sorts of discoveries in science, but industry cannot convert this progress into innovation,’ said Meijer. ‘The gap is not typically Dutch, I can assure you,’ continued Meijer. ‘The same thing is happening abroad.’
Meijer is not pointing an accusing finger at science. ‘A researcher at a university laboratory thinks differently than a researcher in an industrial laboratory. But let’s keep it this way. The differences are what make cooperation between industry and science worthwhile.’ / WK