Ola Borten Moe writes a miserable statement on 9.1.23 on NRK Chronicle About Europe’s lack of prospects for the future, especially in relation to the United States and China. Both of us have extensive experience from leading knowledge environments in the USA and China, Norwegian research centers of excellence and from the management of the European Research Council (ERC).
There are certainly many more buildings that could have been commented on. We agree on two:
First It is astonishing that the Minister of Research and Higher Education has never mentioned research and research-based innovation as a primary precursor to growth and development.
Systematic investment in basic and cutting-edge research has been and continues to be crucial to the growth and technological dominance of the United States.
Likewise, a feature of China’s emergence as a global economy is that it has invested very heavily for several decades in building an outstanding basic research environment that can compete with the best in the USA and Europe.
China is currently the country that publishes the most science, although the quality varies somewhat – as is the case in both Europe and the USA.
Lessons learned from this is that the aspiration to be a world leader in future growth areas is not only a matter of land, raw materials and access to energy resources, as in Borten Moe’s history, it is an outstanding research sector where fundamental new knowledge forms the basis for innovations and new transformative technologies can grow .
This is still the case in the United States as then-President Obama said in his State of the Union address in 2012: “Innovation requires basic research” — and then added, “Don’t let other countries win the race for a future.”
Curiosity-driven basic research may seem useless, but it is the foundation of the needs of the knowledge society. Professor Harald Skjervold was involved in this type of research Laying the foundation for salmon farming One of our most important industries.
The European Union created its own program in 2007 Boundary-breaking Fundamental Research (ERC), which in a short time was considered probably the most prestigious research program in the world. Researchers from other regions are moving to Europe to participate.
The program has funded 12 Nobel Prize winners (including the Norwegian), three of last year’s laureates.
The technology behind mRNA vaccines was developed with support from ERC. Although the program is based entirely on the researchers’ curiosity-driven ideas, it makes a significant contribution to responding to the major societal challenges of the time.
For every euro invested, much more patents come out of this software than software intended for short-term, pre-defined problems. Europe has a very good and forward-looking model.
We will argue There is a lot to learn here about how our country can keep up, and I would have liked to have seen that the Minister had expressed a clear ambition to develop and promote a distinguished and breakthrough research environment as the basis for our country’s future.
Still, as then-Prime Minister Stoltenberg said at the inauguration of NTNU’s Brain Research Center in 2012: “We were unable to anticipate any of Norway’s three largest industries today, petroleum, agriculture, and telecommunications, and therefore we must be very modest when talking about what we are going to live on.” In 50-100 years. But what we do know is that what we will make a living from will be about knowledge.”
Second, we might as well argue That open democratic societies are the ones most capable of developing the ideas and technologies that will shape the future, not least of all creating the conditions for their acceptance and use in a way that truly creates better societies.
Here, authoritarian states will quickly fall short. Europe has clear advantages, in relation to the increasingly authoritarian leadership of China and the uncertain future of democracy in the United States.
If Europe emerges as a leading region, it is inexplicable, writes Burton-Mowe, but it will be the result of having the best research environment in open and democratic societies.
Rather than a dystopia, we would like the Minister to see the possibilities here, both in Europe and in Norway.
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