Craig Barret – Invest in Research Universities

Forbes, March 20 2012 –

In this guest post by the former Intel CEO, he describes how US universities have been key to US competitiveness and encourages more federal investment. He also mentions how the US  has been the model for other countries in their quest to enhance their competitiveness (e.g., China, Chile, Russia). While I agree with his position, he fails to mention that these countries have gone one step further –  they are also supporting industry research, thus aligning and augmenting their research investments’ effectiveness and efficiency.

While some US some federal agencies do support industry research (e.g., DARPA, DOE), the NSF created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…” only supports academic research. I have asked many times to NSF officials why this is so, and the answer I’ve gotten is: “This is the tradition.” If the US wants to reverse the trend and enhance its competitiveness, it is time this tradition is changed, especially since it may be the only federal agency that supports research across most of the science, math and engineering disiciplines as well as promotes the development of the related talent and human resources.