Industry funded academic research is a problem.
Industry-sponsored academic research often ends up in the hands of single corporations. I think this defeats the overall goal of academic research, which is to improve everyone’s lot in life.
There’s a growing trend, in many areas of academia (such as engineering), to expect industry to at least partially match government research funding. The advantages, they say, are that industry involvement creates greater opportunity for knowledge and technology transfer, and academia can identify industry-relevant problems faster and easier. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the financial burden of research is partly transferred away from government; in this way, governments can be seen as “saving money.”
Do these gentlemen look like your colleagues?
UPDATE: Afonso responded to this post here. My rebuttal is post as a comment on his blog rather than here (he seems to care more about getting clicks than I do); a direct link to my comment is here.
There’s a blog post by Alexandre Afonso (London School of Economics and Political Science) that proposes the rather odd notion that academia is a like a drug gang. The argument is based on a narrow and incomplete perspective of what drives academics that seems rooted in a simplistic worldview where everything is related only via economics and politics. It’s a case of the blind men and the elephant.
NSERC is broken.
Robert G. Latta recently had a piece in the CAUT Bulletin on recent changes to the way NSERC funds research in Canada in engineering and the sciences. You can read the article here. Dr. Latta makes abundantly clear that the changes NSERC has instituted will not end well for researchers. I agree with him, and would go even further.