Letter: The art of scientific funding

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The Independent Online
With Susan Greenfield (Comment, EDUCATION, 8 July), Save British Science (SBS) welcomes the arrival of Nesta (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts), although its track record is not yet sufficient to be sure that it really will be less risk-averse than longer- established funding bodies.

SBS believes that, since any single funding source will inevitably have its own perspective and prejudices, the health of our fundamental scientific research is best served by having a wide range of support channels. Truly innovative ideas can be hard to recognise, so the more opportunities there are, the greater the chance that they will be identified and backed.

The United States is arguably the most successful nation in the field of science that there has ever been, and part of that success is due to the very wide range of potential private, industrial, state and federal sponsors to which a scientist can apply for funding there.

The UK must secure and expand the plurality of state support that presently exists, and at the same time use the fiscal system to encourage greater private-sector backing for basic research, as well as entrepreneurship.

Professor RICHARD W JOYNER

Chairman

Research Office

Nottingham Trent University

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