Science - June 16, 2011

Verhagen: no cuts in fundamental research

The cabinet does not intend to cut corners when it comes to fundamental research. However, research has to be more related to the nine economic top sectors, writes Maxime Verhagen, the Minister of Economic Affairs.

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Several young scientists fear that we will take away money meant for fundamental research. This is not correct', he writes in the newspaper NRC Handelsblad. He is referring to the youth section of research academy KNAW which sounded a warning earlier this week about the cabinet's research policy. The Young Academy proclaimed that the need for research should not be viewed only in terms of money.
Although Verhagen does intend to put aside 350 million euros in the budgets of research fund providers NWO and KNAW for a 'new form of collaboration' between scientists and the private sector, he says that this will be based on the high academic criteria which are currently used.
He points out Wageningen University as an example to the young scientists. Wageningen plant geneticists belong to the world's top and discover genes which make plants less susceptible to diseases and pests: such knowledge can be used by companies to develop resistant tomato varieties.
According to Verhagen, top researchers are often inspired by challenges within society. 'It would be a pity if the young academicians are influenced by the fear of change.'

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