Chile Convocation 1998

Realizing the Globalization of Discovery
Santiago, Chile
June 4-5, 1998

Report of the International Advisory Group
on Science and Technology

 

 

 

Table of Contents
Part One

A Time for Action Tomas Hexner
The Situation in Chile Hans Joachim Queisser
Suggested Qualities of the Millennium Institutes Jacob Palis
A Relevant Model: EMBL David Sabatini
A Second Relevant Model: NATO Science Committee Edward David
The Case of the United Kingdom William Stewart
The Viewpoint of the World Bank Colin Rees
Lessons from the Carnegie Commission David Robinson
The Case of Korea KunMo Chung
Information Technology Charles Simonyi
Participation and Funding by Industry Edward David
A Brief Summary Phillip Griffiths

Part Two
Science and Technology in Chile
The Need for Cooperation and Collaboration
Improving the Environment for Innovation
A Possible Role for "Millennium Institutes"

Part Three
The Need for Millennium Institutes
The Dual Goals of Research and Training
Administration and Linkage
Human Capital Formation
The Design of the Institutes
Expected Difficulties and Possible Solutions

Summary of Major Points

 


 

Realizing the Globalization of Discovery
Part One

 

Convocation Summary
Santiago, Chile
June 4-5, 1998

An International Advisory Group on Science and Technology met for two days in Santiago at the request of President Eduardo Frei to discuss the state of science and technology in Chile and to evaluate the usefulness of a program of "Millennium Institutes" in Chile, the Southern Cone nations, and in other developing regions worldwide.

Those who attended the meeting reached a broad consensus on an "action agenda" for Chile, as follows:

  1. The nation would benefit from a thorough evaluation of the condition of science and technology, including the effectiveness of research, state of higher and public education, and extent of participation by industry.
  2. Participants endorsed with enthusiasm the new concept of independent "Millennium Institutes" in the Southern Cone nations.
  3. The Millennium Institutes would be "centers of excellence" with the dual goals of research and education, according to regional strengths and needs.
  4. The Institutes would be a collaborative partnership sponsored by governments, the World Bank, major foundations, the international scientific community, and industry.
  5. They would be administratively independent of existing institutions, with considerable freedom to innovate, and would likely be located within existing institutions.
  6. They would strive for a high degree of connectedness: with the private and educational sectors, with each other, and with institutions around the world.
  7. They would facilitate the adoption of research results in the marketplace.
  8. They would adopt the mission of outreach in demonstrating to society the importance of science and technology.

Following are brief summaries of presentations by members of the Advisory Group:

 

 

A Time for Action (Tomas Hexner)  return to contents

In 1950 the International Monetary Fund targeted Chile for its very first economic report. Chile was the Fund’s very first "victim." I worked on that report. Now, nearly 50 years later, I confront the reality of the Chilean economy, and I see an economy in motion and rich in potential.

I would like to make four points:

  • First, this is a time for action, not just talk.
  • Second, science and technology fuel economic growth.
  • Third, the source for this fuel of economic growth is young, imaginative, and well-trained scientific talent.
  • Fourth, excessive bureaucracy, regulation, and rigidity represent the greatest barriers to scientific and technological progress.

In Santiago today the ingredients are in place for action. Key decision makers have recognized that innovation sparks prosperity, and that innovation is the product of scientific talent.

We need to appreciate how far science and technology have advanced our standard of living. Consider, please, the genius of the plant breeders. In the last 30 years the miracle varieties of wheat, maize, and rice have increased yields so much that the world, even under the immense pressure of population growth, continues to feed itself. Famines occur because of faulty distribution and ill-conceived policies – not because of an actual lack of food.

We want to lay the foundation for this kind of innovation to occur first in Chile and then throughout the world. Scientific talent and innovation have never been the property of any single nation. But reaching and staying at the forefront requires serious and sustained commitment, investment, and a supportive infrastructure.

We must nourish the young and the imaginative among us. Is it not incredible that a 40-year-old Harvard dropout 23 years ago created Microsoft, the company with the highest capitalization of any company in America? Today’s pace of discovery, innovation, and transformation is staggering. Only the young can compete in that race, and they require intensive and expensive nurturing.

How do we overcome the dreaded trinity of bureaucracy, excessive regulation, and rigidity? Unquestionably, there must be a balance between order and freedom. But if we must err, in my view it is preferable to err on the side of freedom; the side of discovery and innovation.

Nearly every country has the talent, potential, and resources to become a leader in some aspect of science and technology. The financial and infrastructure challenges are great. But if the commitment is made and sustained, it will yield immense returns in tax revenues, national pride, and quality of life.

 

 

The Situation in Chile (Hans Joachim Queisser)  return to contents

Traditionally, Chile’s economy has been supported by the exports of raw materials, such as copper, wood, fish, and agricultural products. In recent years, however, the prices of raw materials have fallen steadily. One option for the country is to add value to its products, such as incorporating copper into electronic products or subsystems such as microchips or circuit boards.

Another challenge is to extend research and development activities to include industry, which today conducts little research. The Fraunhofer institutes of Germany, which receive government funding but also do contract work for industry, provide a model. An overarching advantage of those institutes is that they involve young academic scientists and engineers in industrial problems, so that researchers learn much about the application of scientific knowledge to practical problems.

Chile would benefit from more educational options. Because the structure of universities tends to become less flexible over time, students would benefit from more options, such as the experience of working in off-campus Millennium Institutes. Chile has made remarkable efforts in advancing educational systems, essentially eradicating illiteracy. This effort should be maintained, e.g., with good teachers’ salaries. Excellence in secondary school systems is a necessary basis for enhancing and strengthening academic research.

 

 

Suggested Qualities of the Millennium Institutes (Jacob Palis)  return to contents

Brazil, which has one scientific "center of excellence," in Rio de Janeiro, endorses the plan for a series of Millennium Institutes in the Southern Cone and elsewhere. The director of Brazil’s institute, Dr. Jacob Palis, said that they should stand out as "houses of knowledge and research." Their operating philosophy should include generosity and solidarity with other centers, both nearby and farther away. Interaction with other centers of a similar nature is essential.

They should have the following characteristics:

  • The Institutes should emphasize people, not buildings or instrumentation.
  • Permanent staff should be small, and additional staff come from adjacent institutions.
  • Institutes should be located in both advanced and less developed areas.
  • Missions should be flexible, ranging from top-level research to development of new curricular materials.
  • Interaction with other centers of a similar nature is essential.
  • Each Director should be a very talented scientist who has a broad vision of education, research, and outreach to the private sector.
  • The Directors and the visiting members should go into the schools and talk with students and teachers; this practice is effective in Brazil.

Conditions in the Southern Cone favor this kind of collaboration, which would not have been possible several decades ago.

 

 

A Relevant Model: EMBL (David Sabatini)  return to contents

The gap between basic research capability in advanced societies and in the Southern Cone nations has widened, partly because of the chronic brain drain. Each Southern Cone nation performs advanced research in certain areas, but all have employment conditions that make it difficult to retain talented scientists: inadequate research resources, lack of infrastructures, and low salaries. Most distinguished scientists who are native to this region work in the United States and Europe. Several good chairs have attracted good people, but offer no structural solution to the brain drain.

Thanks largely to recent political and economic changes, the time is right for a new initiative to establish supra-national institutes in each of the three major Southern Cone nations – Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. Broader national outlooks, economic progress, and stable democratic governments have set the stage for international cooperation. With appropriate planning, a program could be initiated in a relatively short time. There is good reason to believe that the existence of such a program could entice some first-rank scientists to stay at home and others to visit.

In the field of biomedical science, Western Europe offers a good model for independent institutes in the form of EMBL, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg. EMBL, whose creation was inspired by the success of CERN, in Geneva, does research in only a few fields, so that each has a critical mass of researchers. Group leaders are chosen who are youthful, independent, and interactive. There is high turnover, and the environment is in constant change. After their term at EMBL, members commonly leave for staff positions at universities in their home regions.

Clearly, a major challenge for each new institute would be to gain the trust of other existing institutions in the region. It would require the effective support of governments, foundations, and banks, and would, like EMBL, have to be protected from government interference. All institutions in a given field, such as the biomedical sciences, would be administered by a single supra-national body, which would have access to scientists of world stature.

The supra-national nature of each Institute would be reflected in the international makeup of members. Directors of EMBL, for example, have been natives of England, Sweden, and Greece. The collaboration of multiple governments is needed to maintain adequate laboratory facilities. Molecular biologists, for example, need expensive instrumentation for structural analysis and for large-scale genomic sequencing, as well as facilities for generating and maintaining transgenic and genetically altered animals.

 

 

A Second Relevant Model: NATO Science Committee (Edward David)  return to contents

Joint action by scientists in multiple nations, aided by government, has been a major force in the creation and use of knowledge. This grand idea, powered by human capital, requires both careful planning and bold action. Chile can make use of this strategy because it already has a base of research to build on and many models of joint action to learn from.

Professional societies (including OECD) have produced excellent results through joint action and good management. One result is great success in producing people and knowledge. A sound model for this is the NATO Science Committee, formed in 1950 by a small group of "three wise men." They were scientific advisors from different countries who were not political appointees. They advised for the benefit of all members, and recruited scientists outside their own countries to find the most productive people.

The committee designed four programs: 1) Advanced research workshops; 2) advanced study institutes, which delivered schooling in the latest fields; 3) research grants to defray extra costs of international research; and 4) fellowships for travel between countries. These activities involved over 50,000 scientists, over 10 years, and 150 volumes of publications per year, non-classified. Yet the budget for the Science Committee was only $25 million per year.

The committee was flexible enough to begin new missions when desirable, such as a program known as Science for Stability. When three nations fell behind in research in 1979 – Greece, Turkey and Portugal – the science committee gave special attention and additional funding to specific projects in those countries, producing solutions to vexing problems of each nation and a cohort of qualified project managers.

The principles of the science committee were as follows: 1) Capable and educated people live in almost all countries, and all of them respond to opportunity; 2) effectiveness of research can be enhanced through electronic networks which permit "global homework"; 3) administration must be protected from political influence, which can poison cross-national cooperation; and 4) structure must be designed to accommodate desirable new missions and phase out others that fall in priority. With these principles in mind, the Southern Cone seems a very promising region to establish institutes with many of these features.

 

 

The Case of the United Kingdom (William Stewart)  return to contents

The recent history of the United Kingdom is instructive. In 1990, the government essentially allowed market forces to set science policy. However, the pace of technological change was so rapid that the market was unable to keep up.

A small planning group was charged with the task of developing a new vision for science and technology. They first engaged the community in planning sessions, and chose broad areas to focus on. They asked, What can be done in our country? Given our situation, what are the top-priority areas? The group drew up a white paper, describing goals and suggesting areas of priority. Out of this process came a series of principles:

  1. The indigenous infrastructure must be sustained.
  2. The plan should begin with high-tech industries.
  3. The nation must be embedded in a regional trading bloc (e.g., the European Union).
  4. Universities and industries must both be sites of innovation.
  5. If industry doesn’t innovate, something is wrong.
  6. Universities and industries must work productively together.
  7. Industry must be involved in policy making.
  8. Major research programs should be collaborative, 50/50 government/industry.
  9. Each government department must embrace these principles.

The group began by reorganizing the infrastructure. It established two councils to underpin manufacturing in important fields: one for engineering and physics, a second for biology and biotechnology, both with industry representatives. Industry and government were considered to be co-drivers of research policy and direction.

Because industry is increasingly global, the best scientists were recruited from wherever in the world they could be found, and they were given the means to network with other scientists throughout the world. Industrial partnerships were encouraged; e.g., big pharmaceuticals formed partnerships with innovate smaller companies, which provided the unconventional minds and original thinking needed to lead to new products. Because many small companies couldn’t afford facilities on their own, they were offered a variety of regional bases to provide infrastructure and a critical mass of researchers.

 

 

The Viewpoint of the World Bank (Colin Rees)  return to contents

The World Bank is placing greater emphasis upon the development of human resources, including investment in science and technology. Many aspects of sustainable development are increasingly science-based, and fostering technology is assuming a high priority for many of the Bank’s client countries in meeting the needs of the next century.

The Bank has financed a number of programs to strengthen capability in science and technology and university-industry linkages and to promote scientific research and technological innovation. Especially in Latin America, it has also supported investments in graduate training and incentives to shift the focus toward areas of more relevance to the productive sector.

In addition to its role in facilitating capacity-building, the Bank is now engaged in helping countries on several fronts: develop science and technology policy and identify priorities for action; mobilize financial resources; strengthen the linkage between the public and private sectors; and forge better integration of science and technology with development. The Bank believes that the knowledge and skills fostered by these activities will help fuel the dynamic engines of wealth, prosperity and equity

 

 

Lessons from the Carnegie Commission (David Robinson)  return to contents

The Carnegie Commission on Science and Technology, established in 1988, worked until 1993 on 19 reports that proposed ways in which branches of government could better make use of information provided by advances in science and technology. Membership in the Commission included both outstanding scientists and distinguished non-scientists who had had important government experience, such as former President Jimmy Carter. The reports focused on recommending processes and mechanisms by which policies could be developed and decision making improved.

Two reports are particularly relevant to the convocation. "Enabling the Future," described the importance of diffusing S&T knowledge and how this could be improved in the long run by directly linking science and technology to social goals such as economic growth, environmental protection, and better health. Another, "Science, Technology, and the States," described how several states experiencing economic recessions (Pennsylvania and Ohio, in particular) benefited by establishing independent institutes, jointly sponsored by government, universities, and industry, that were designed both to strengthen the science and technology base and to promote local innovation.

Some of the conclusions of the reports applicable to the recommended institutes are:

  • Build on strengths already present in the region (in the case of Chile, these might include biology and astronomy).
  • Develop realistic goals. Recognize that long-term goals often involve a significant change of culture. Don’t put all of the burden or hope for significant national change on a few individuals or institutes.
  • Build in an evaluation procedure; don’t hesitate to close down an institute when it is no longer useful.
  • New initiatives require new funds. Carving out funds from existing programs is a recipe for non-cooperation with and even sabotage by other parts of the scientific community.
  • Finally, the science base should be linked to social goals, and many and complex links are sometimes needed. The difficulty of this should not paralyze action, but it does call for careful planning and evaluation.

 

 

The Case of Korea (KunMo Chung)  return to contents

The case of Korea is an instructive example of how science and technology can help to build new prosperity quickly - in this case, through institution-building (e.g., the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, Korea Institute of Science and Technology, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and Korea Institute for Advanced Engineering). From a virtually pre-industrial condition 40 years ago, Korea has become highly competitive with developed nations across a range of high-tech areas.

Plagued by a weak economy during the 1970s and early 1980s, the nation began by building its own industrial organizations and R&D institutes to guide its development. The first stage was to start "from the bottom" and use reverse engineering and technology transfer to incorporate technologies developed elsewhere. By the late 1980s, when the production of end-stage technology was approaching saturation, the nation was able to shift toward innovation and technology development using the "mid-entry strategy" to develop more of its own technology.

Today, after a remarkable recovery, the country is ranked "highly competitive" by the IMD and steadily increasing the amount of basic research performed by Korean scientists and engineers. For example, KAIST has produced more than 16,000 scientists and engineers, 3,000 of them holding PhDs. Korea is now a world leader in the production of memory chips, telephone switching equipment, electronic home appliances, and 1000-MW-class nuclear power reactors.

 

 

Information Technology (Charles Simonyi)  return to contents

Nations intending to strengthen their scientific and technological competence are virtually obligated to develop both research capabilities and infrastructure in information technology. In the field of computer software, for example, programs are able to perform computations ever more cheaply and to "distill out" complexity. More and more, software "interacts with reality" to product digital artifacts. The most productive nations are those in which manufacturing becomes more efficient by assigning to software more of its tasks.

Our lives change with the development of high-tech approaches, digital artifacts, and cyberspace. Even fields that are traditionally low-tech, such as agriculture, must employ countless high-tech tools to be competitive in world markets. A farmer who exports wheat now depends on computers to track finances, predict prices, and manage equipment. Such tools will promise to increase wealth, so we shouldn’t be afraid to borrow from tomorrow to build infrastructure and fund education.

Digital metaphors, interactive simulation, games, and calculators are all teaching high-tech nations to better understand processes. Even the simple hand-held calculators of today, for example, can allow us to estimate the consequences of a new tax policy. Computer games can also show us how hard it is to predict the results of intervening in complex systems. In this spirit, government inventions in society should be initiated only with great care.

Politically, the development of high-tech techniques and wealth do best in an economic and political environment that encourages innovation. For example, new corporations should be easy and inexpensive to set up, and left to compete freely. Continuous high-tech improvements are the key to gaining market share in more and more businesses.

 

 

Participation and Funding by Industry (Edward David)  return to contents

Industry must play an active part in establishing and operating the Millennium Institutes if they are to be successful in their goal of benefiting Chilean society. The difficulty in establishing the necessary collaboration lies in the current mistrust between the Chilean research institutions and industry.

This schism is caused by a lack of focus and productivity by Chilean research activities as seen by industry. They believe that the $500 million per year now being spent through the funding system is largely wasted as far as economic development or commercial technology is concerned. Researchers and university administrators, on the other hand, see industry as desiring engineering services rather than technological innovations based on science. These views make it unlikely that industry would participate and fund research through the current S&T system.

The Millennium Institutes provide an alternative mechanism in which industry might participate. They require some confidence that their funding can result in value for their activities. The necessary relationship has been called "customer-contractor." The customer is the funder and the contractor is the performer. The agreement between them is based on a budget, a schedule, and specific deliverables. The latter may be hardware, software, study reports, or just demonstrations of technological feasibility.

Beyond specific contracts, institutions often execute programs of research and development resulting from proposals by researchers to an advisory board including representatives and experts from sponsoring industries, including their own experts in the subject. Thus the institutes would operate on a contractor-customer basis and on a programmatic basis incorporating a schedule, budget, and deliverables to the consortium of supporting companies.

This same paradigm can be applied to fundamental (or basic) research as well as to development and applied research. For the basic activities, greater flexibility can be built into the agreements, contracts, and programs, Top researchers and top industrial leaders can find working together profitable for the benefit of consumers and businesses alike.

 

 

A Brief Summary (Phillip Griffiths)  return to contents

The concept of scientific "centers of excellence" is not new, so that we have experiences we can build on as we consider the Millennium Institutes. Some of the broad features of the Institutes, as presently understood, will differ from other centers of excellence in fundamental ways:

  1. They will have the dual objectives of research and education. That is, their products will be people as well as knowledge.
  2. They will not be self-contained or isolated, but will strive for connectedness on many levels: to the private sector, to colleges and secondary schools, to the institution in which they are housed, to other centers and universities.
  3. They will be part of a global network that will have continuing relationships with the World Bank, governments, industries, major foundations, and the scientific community.
  4. In order to maintain the highest quality, selection of members and evaluation of the programs will be done by an international committee composed of both academic and industrial leaders.
  5. Each Institute will be flexible – in size, structure, location, and scientific direction – and responsive to the needs of its local constituencies.

 

Realizing the Globalization of Discovery
Appendix to Part One

 

Advisory Group

Phillip A. Griffiths, Chair
Director, Institute for Advanced Study
Princeton, NJ

Bruce Alberts
President, National Academy of Sciences
Washington, DC

KunMo Chung
President, Institute for Advanced Engineering
Chair Professor, Ajou University
Korea

Edward E. David, Jr.
President, EED, Inc.
Bedminster, NJ

J. Tomas Hexner
President, HEX, Inc.
Cambridge, MA

Jacob Palis
Director, Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Hans Joachim Queisser
Director, Max-Planck Institute for Solid-State Research
Stuttgart, Germany

Colin Rees
Environment Department, The World Bank
Washington, DC

David Z. Robinson
Former Executive Director, Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology and Government
New York, NY

David D. Sabatini
Professor and Chairman, Department of Cell Biology, New York University
New York, NY

Charles Simonyi
Chief Architect, Microsoft Corporation
Redmond, WA

William Stewart
Former Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Prime Minister and the UK Government
Dundee, Scotland

 

Regional and Local Panelists

Claudio Teitelboim, Chair
Presidential Science Advisor, Chile

Jorge Allende
President, Chilean Chapter, International Council of Scientific Unions

Alvaro Diaz
Ministry of Economics of Chile

José Miguel Insulza
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile

Felipe Lamarca
President, Association for the Fostering of Industry, Chile

Jaime Lavados
Rector, University of Chile

Mario Mariscotti
President, National Agency for the Advancement of Science and Technology, Argentina

Gutenberg Martínez
Speaker of the House of Representatives of Chile

Mauricio Sarrazín
President, National Commission for Science and Technology, Chile

José Israel Vargas
Minister of Science and Technology of Brazil

 

 


 

Realizing the Globalization of Discovery
Part Two

 

Terms of Reference for an Evaluation of Science and Technology

One of the discussion sessions at the convocation on Realizing the Globalization of Discovery was devoted to the subject of "Regionalization in Science and in Technology." Scientists and engineers from both Southern Cone nations and the international scientific community reviewed the state of science and technology in Chile. They characterized the major features of the research and industrial sectors, described areas that need strengthening, and highlighted terms of reference for a more thorough evaluation. A brief summary of this discussion follows:

 

 

Science and Technology in Chile  return to contents

A pervasive challenge for Chile is that scientists have not convinced industry or society in general of the importance of scientific and technological research and development. They have not described the essential role of research in laying the foundation for new processes and products and in helping to meet such national objectives as economic competitiveness, modern health care, environmental safety, and improved quality of life. In addition:

  • There is insufficient attention to developing "human capital" for science and technology and promoting the ability of scientists and engineers to move freely between positions in academia, industry, and government.
  • Science education in general must be strengthened at all levels. The educational system must produce not only more PhDs in science and engineering, but also more teachers, technicians, and holders of master’s degrees.
  • Scientists and engineers who work for government or academia need to understand and apply the relevance of their skills to economic growth. For example, local expertise is needed to add value to exports and build up the research capabilities of industry.
  • Scientists and engineers can play a more significant role in society if they have access to a strong infrastructure of facilities and technology, and better linkage to the international scientific community.
  • Management of science and technology can be improved through more collaboration among institutions that too often compete for people and resources. Better management must also reduce institutional overhead, which currently consumes an excessive proportion of research funds.

 

 

The Need for Cooperation and Collaboration  return to contents

In addition to building up its science and technology infrastructure, Chile would benefit from a conscious effort to enhance a culture of collaboration and teamwork, both within the country and with other nations.

  • Support horizontal - not vertical - cooperation. That is, a traditional "top-down" approach tends to be less productive than a more collaborative, team-oriented style of research. For example, academic scientists benefit from contact with their peers in other sectors, especially in industry, where collaborative study between people of different basic research areas can often lead to new applications.
  • Support both basic and applied research, respecting the value of both. For example, seemingly "useless" basic work by one researcher may stimulate new ideas in the mind of a colleague who recognizes an entirely new possibility or line of pursuit. Similarly, questions emerging from applications and developmental work may trigger new approaches in basic academic research. This cross-fertilization is enhanced by good communication and a spirit of collaboration.
  • Modern nations cannot afford to be isolated intellectually. Science and technology research are global enterprises, and every nation needs access to work being done in other countries. Chile can profit by strengthening lines of communication with other regions around the world. Today, favorable political and economic conditions have opened the door for more international cooperation, especially in the Southern Cone. Economic growth, international trade, and political stability allow a new degree of communication and joint activity. The sharing of expertise and new approaches between Southern Cone nations can lead to their better integration into the global scientific community.
  • One advantage of collaboration is to avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts. This is especially important for smaller nations, which can thrive by focusing on a few strengths when they are able to share expertise with neighbors. Collaboration can also bring access to expensive facilities and technologies which would otherwise be beyond the reach of single nations.

 

 

Improving the Environment for Innovation  return to contents

The performance of excellent research is a prerequisite of innovation - but it is not enough. A nation can only capitalize on the results of research when the economic, fiscal, and regulatory environments are favorable to the development of commercial products and the support of small as well as large firms.

  • Secure patent laws are needed (in some industries more than others) if scientists, companies and the nation are to harvest adequate returns on their investments in research.
  • Much of the commercial activity to develop new products and adapt new results to the needs of the marketplace is done by small firms. Because of the risks of firm formation, a society must encourage the availability of venture capital to start-up firms.
  • Even when industry understands the importance of research and development, it may not be able to afford the expenses of modern research. Tax breaks to industries that support R&D are good investments by government.

 

 

A Possible Role for "Millennium Institutes"  return to contents

Several participants discussed one mechanism that might help nations strengthen their research base and extend this base into society. This mechanism is a new kind of scientific institute with the dual goals of research and education. These "Millennium Institutes" would strive to attract world-class scientists as Directors, and provide an attractive home or near-home base for outstanding scientists who were born in developing countries but find it necessary to pursue their careers abroad. The Millennium Institutes could contribute to strengthening science and technology in Chile and other nations in a variety of ways:

  • They would not require large capital outlays. They would focus on people, rather than physical infrastructure, seeking locations within existing institutions. Thus the majority of income could be devoted to research and outreach.
  • An explicit part of their mission would be to promote outreach: linkages with industry, education, and the international scientific community.
  • They would by selected and evaluated by an international panel of experts. Administration would include the goals of minimal bureaucracy, low overhead, and a maximum degree of freedom for members to focus on productive work.
  • Directors would be chosen not only for expertise in science and training, but also in management, so as to ensure efficient and strategic uses of funds.
  • Before approval, each Millennium Institute (and its Director) would be required to select a limited area of focus and to describe a clear vision of mission. This vision would be shaped, to some extent, by the research strengths and needs of the country and region, while taking advantage of the specialty of the Director and the local institutional setting.

 


 

Realizing the Globalization of Discovery
Part Three

Millennium Institutes
for Science and Technology:
A Discussion Document

 

Executive Summary

This brief document attempts to convey the vision of a worldwide network of Millennium Institutes for Science and Technology. The purposes of these institutes would be 1) to allow countries to move to the forefront of science and technology research in targeted fields, and 2) to catalyze education and outreach, with the goal of enabling nations to share in the benefits of science and technology in the new millennium.

Small in size and efficient in operation, the Institutes would function as "intellectual magnets" for their nation and region, led by an international corps of scholar-educators of outstanding scientific, educational, and leadership abilities. A preliminary goal is to establish 10-20 Institutes worldwide over the next five years. This number might grow in the course of a generation to 50-100.

The goals of this program are endorsed by experienced and influential supporters. Founding participants include the international scientific community, the World Bank, the host nations, and major foundations. The International Advisory Group, composed of scientific leaders from many nations, has held its first planning convocation in Santiago, Chile. As a result of that meeting, the President of Chile has endorsed the establishment of Millennium Institutes in the Southern Cone nations of Chile, Brazil, and Argentina, and Brazil has made a significant financial commitment to the project.

The Millennium Institutes would differ from existing centers of excellence and other science and technology institutes in important respects:

  • The primary goal of the program is to develop human resources in fields of science and technology in selected nations around the world, according to local strengths and needs.
  • Specific objectives of Institutes would be flexible and locally determined.
  • Institutes would be small, lean, and autonomous, without large permanent staffs. In some cases they would be "cells" within existing institutions.
  • Directors would be selected for not only their scientific leadership but also for their ability to train other scientists, to understand the needs of the region, and to forge links with industry and the education community.
  • Institutes would inspire members with an outreach ethic and with logistical support to disseminate their own learning to industry, to colleagues at institutions in their country and region, and also to teachers at the secondary school level.
  • Some Institutes would form partnerships with industry to generate income and sow seeds of economic growth.
  • The selection and evaluation of Millennium Institutes would be done by an international panel, ensuring the quality, independence, and credibility of the program.

 

The Need for Millennium Institutes  return to contents

Two conclusions underlie the discussions that gave rise to this document: 1) a sound science and technology base is important to every nation; 2) the globalization of science and technology means that each nation can and must strengthen its own science and technology base. In response to these needs, Millennium Institutes would seek to apply two principles, with ample flexibility according to local conditions: 1) each Institute would perform research at the very highest level, bringing world-class science to specific regions; 2) each Institute, through outreach and collaborative efforts, would seek to catalyze a local "Silicon Valley" effect, including research partnerships with educational institutions and industry, technology-based start-ups and spin-offs, and productive relationships with financing institutions.

The need for Millennium Institutes is related to the process of innovation, which might be said to move through four stages: knowledge discovery, acquisition, assimilation, and utilization. In the past, a nation could participate in the innovation process by confining its activities to the latter two stages. Today, nations must participate in virtually all four stages to remain competitive internationally. This change is attributable partly to the shrinking interval between discovery and product, and partly to each nation’s need for world-class scientists and engineers who can transform the results of world research into useful applications locally.

Therefore, even though a Millennium Institute would not be solely a research institute, its programs would revolve around research. It would be an institution to which the best scientists in the world want to go. The research conducted there would push the frontiers, rather than merely fill gaps in a predictable way. They would provide a mechanism for the most capable and charismatic researchers of the host nations to remain and prosper at home, surrounded by disciples and students. Scientists working in their home countries would also profit from professional linkages with compatriot scientists working abroad.

 

 

The Dual Goals of Research and Training  return to contents

While research would be the primary activity of the Millennium Institutes, it would not be the only goal. The second reason for each nation to conduct its own research is to provide the best educational environment for its young scientists and engineers. One often thinks of research and education as two distinct endeavors. In practice, they come together with great power in graduate and post-graduate education. For example, the teaching effectiveness of U.S. universities owes much to the practice of educating students, postdocs, and fellows in a research environment. Many students from other nations seek such environments for study and work, leaving research and education largely disjoint in their home countries.

In this spirit, the overall goal of the Millennium Institutes might be described as the education and development of young and mid-level scientists who work and study at the frontier of their discipline in the company of world-class researchers. This same sense of education provides the rationale for the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, New Jersey, which invites younger ‘visiting members’ to study in the company of permanent senior staff and then return to their home institutions with new perspectives and knowledge. Such a center becomes a seed bed in which people learn, grow, and prepare for leadership.

As seed beds, the Millennium Institutes would inspire members with an outreach ethic and with logistical support to disseminate their own learning to industry, to school teachers, and to colleagues at their home institutions. They would seek to motivate, to model, and to attract more young people to careers in science and engineering. Students, educators, and members of the business world would visit the Institutes to see programs that convey the ferment, stimulation, and practical uses of science-based activities.

Another objective of outreach would be to communicate with scientists and engineers who work in industry and government labs. It is vitally important to improve the flow of people and ideas across the interface between academia and industry. Academic scientists realize benefits from industry in the form of challenging new problems and research funding; industry gains access to talented people, advanced conceptual thinking, and access to continuing education for its employees. The Institutes would seek to catalyze this process and to demonstrate the advantages of research to the private sector. They might, in the way of the Fraunhofer institutes, engage in some contractual research for industry.

Graduates of the Institutes might go in several directions after their term of membership. Many would return to local academic institutions to undertake outreach and leadership activities. Others might be prepared for new career directions in the private sector, education, or government. Considerable variation by region and nation would be expected, according to local needs and strengths.

 

 

Administration and Linkage  return to contents

The Millennium Institutes would form a worldwide network of small research institutions, bound by commonality of purpose and personal contacts between members. Institutes would form flexible partnerships with institutions in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere to increase collaboration and multidisciplinary interaction. Their wide geographic distribution and modest size would be mitigated by modern communications, with each Institute linked electronically to other Institutes and institutions, able to participate in the rapid globalization of science and technology. They would make use of distance learning, teleconferencing, and electronic seminars to enhance their outreach, in some cases even operating as "virtual institutes" when contiguous physical locations are not available.

The organizational policy of the program is to select the best possible Director for each Institute and plan the mission of that Institute so as to combine the Director’s expertise with local opportunities and conditions. The Director might be a senior researcher, at the level of a Howard Hughes fellow, or an outstanding younger researcher, like a Packard fellow. Candidates would be chosen by a panel of international leaders on the basis of 1) scientific stature, 2) leadership ability, especially with younger scientists, and 3) entrepreneurship. Thus the prestige of the Director would enhance the Institute’s reputation, access to funding, and local collaboration.

Each Director might be affiliated with an outside university or institute, probably in the United States or Europe, where s/he would spend some time each year. Directors of all the Institutes would meet regularly for conferences that would be scientific in character and community-building in effect.

Locally, Institutes, although strictly autonomous in governance, might in most cases leave the granting of degrees to nearby universities, with which they would seek close working relationships. University faculty might, for example, participate on an advisory basis in decision making and hiring. They would also interact and collaborate with Institute personnel and programs.

 

 

Human Capital Formation  return to contents

The Institutes would seek to strengthen human resources in science and engineering in ways that are most relevant to local needs. Although there would not be educational programs in a formal sense, programs would be designed so that younger scientists would learn by working alongside mentors. Some Institutes might focus on incremental improvements of existing systems, while others might undertake fundamental exploration of new ideas and technologies. Even in the least developed countries, where the near-term emphasis must be on public health, agriculture, basic energy supply, and elementary education, it is both possible and essential to recruit new scientists, to expose them to high-level research, and to begin building a science and technology capacity for the medium and long term.

There do exist a few "centers of excellence" in developing countries today, but commonly their focus is primarily on research rather than on education and outreach. The Millennium Institutes would emulate them in one important respect: The most successful centers flourish because of the vision and strong leadership of one director. The Millennium Institutes would recruit from the international community of scientists those who understand the need to extend "literacy" in science and technology to an ever-greater fraction of the world’s growing population.

 

 

The Design of the Institutes  return to contents

Because the Millennium Institutes will be flexible and responsive to local conditions, no single model will be appropriate. Nonetheless, a handful of existing institutes do provide appropriate comparisons. For example, the new Max Planck Institute in cell biology being established in Dresden, Germany, will be organized around a single major scientist and will remain small in size. The director will recruit a group of outstanding young leaders (analogous to assistant or associate professors), each with independent labs that collaborate and share core facilities. In addition, the Dresden institute will function in close relationship with an adjacent university.

Another useful model is the Howard Hughes Institutes, which differ in having no single leaders. They are communities of co-located individuals, each of whom has been separately selected as an outstanding scientist at a particular university. They are sited in a university, although separate from it; they are independently financed; each investigator is evaluated at fixed intervals with strict merit reviews; and they create a community of scholars through regular scientific meetings of their investigators. The Millennium Institutes would build on these qualities and extend them in expecting a Director to assume significant leadership responsibilities.

 

 

 

Expected Difficulties and Possible Solutions  return to contents

The establishment of a new institution within an existing one is likely to meet resistance for a number of reasons. For example, researchers in the Institutes would likely have preferential salaries and access to resources. They may be seen as competitors for outstanding students in relation to faculty in the existing institution.

Program organizers must stand ready to anticipate such difficulties with local solutions. For example, the Hughes program requires its investigators to teach a reasonable course load at the university where they are located. This has the dual advantage of helping other faculty and exposing students to these fine researchers. Investigators may also make available special equipment and facilities to other researchers at the university, often on a subsidized, fee-for-use basis, so that others see a benefit from the co-location.

Another potential source of friction is the selection process for new Institutes and Directors. Above all, the process must be seen as fair, with clear guidelines and honest competition. The most important feature of selection would be the renown and impartiality of the international advisory panel, which would conduct the process with the objectivity and mission orientation of peer review.

A rather particular but critical concern is to establish a tax-exempt status for charitable contributions for science and education. This exemption is an important precondition of philanthropic work with individuals as well as with industry.

In summary, the greatest challenge of the Millennium Institutes, and their greatest opportunity, is to bring the excitement and practical value of advanced research to nations around the world. By focusing on the twin goals of research and education, such Institutes may offer nations the ability not only to sustain the level of research they need, but also to build up the human resources and technical infrastructure their society will require in the 21st century.

 

 

Realizing the Globalization of Discovery

 

Summary of Major Points

1) Science and technology are central to modern economic and social growth. As we enter the 21st century, the rapid pace of globalization, competition, and changing information technologies dictate that nations with vision must be active at the frontiers of research in science, engineering, medicine, and technology. They must utilize that research for the benefit of humanity.

2) Considering the importance of science and technology to modern economies, Chile must significantly enhance its scientific and technological enterprise in order to move toward technological eminence and a broader economic base.

3) At present, the science and engineering community of Chile is small and isolated. Moreover, this group appears to be largely uncoupled from the economy and has relatively few links to industry. The private sector and industrial state enterprises conduct little research in support of advanced technologies and do not seem to recognize the importance of that research to productivity. The trend of falling commodity prices implies that reliance on traditional exports needs to be supplemented by "value-added" products and technologically-based industries. Fortunately, when the private sector recognizes the high rate of return on investments in R&D, the linkage between science and technology and the private sector will follow naturally.

4) This situation calls for immediate and decisive action, in accord with President Frei’s vision of building the strength of science and technology. The country requires strong guidance at the national level to strengthen its science and engineering base and to select a small number of specific fields where it can perform at the world-class level. The country must also promote indigenous R&D capability and the utilization of science and technology.

5) The vision and leadership required to modernize science and technology can be provided by a small number of independent, world-class institutes that complement existing institutional structures. These institutes should be the prototypes for a global network that provides international leadership and linkages: between research and education, between academia and industry, between the nation and its regional neighbors, and between the nation and the global scientific community. Initially, at least, the institutes would capitalize on existing regional strengths. They would aim to attract very high-caliber people, and build a critical mass that would become self-sustaining.

6) Because a similar situation prevails in the neighboring countries of the Southern Cone, we recommend the establishment of a network of supra-national "Millennium Institutes" as houses of research and education which would attract the finest scientists and engineers of the region and build on indigenous strengths. Notable features of these Institutes would include:

  • The dual goals of excellent research and effective training

 

  • Linkages to the private sector, educational communities, and society
  • Collaborative sponsorship by the World Bank, major foundations, the international scientific community, and governments
  • Flexibility in nature and direction of research, according to local strengths and needs
  • Selection and evaluation by world-class international panels
  • Relatively small permanent staffs with significant flow-through of visiting members
  • The promotion of science education at all levels

7) President Frei requested an in-depth assessment of the effectiveness, constraints and opportunities of science and technology efforts in Chile, concurrent with and complementary to establishing the Millennium Institutes. The assessment should compare Chilean science and technology with the innovative systems of advanced and newly industrializing countries. Another goal of the evaluation will be to understand the extent to which the research programs should be coupled with potential uses, especially in the productive areas of the private sector.

8) It is in the interest of the nation that economic development increasingly take place in science and engineering-based industries. The government must create a range of economic incentives to encourage innovation – such as intellectual property rights protections, fiscal stimuli, regulatory reforms, and other conditions that favor entrepreneurial activity.

9) The circumstances for decisive action are ripe, for the following reasons:

  • In the Southern Cone, stable democracies, trade liberalization, and economic cooperation have opened the door to international collaboration. Today’s economic policies create the opportunity to reform the S&T system and promote R&D that supports continued economic growth.
  • The presidents and advisors of Chile, Brazil and Argentina support a collaborative Millennium Institutes program with great enthusiasm and are prepared to commit financial resources. From the strong base of a regional trading bloc, these Institutes can expand to achieve powerful linkages with the global scientific community and provide benefits to the national economies of the participating countries.
  • Major foundations have indicated interest and requested proposals for seed money that can trigger this unique collaboration among the World Bank, the international scientific community, industry, and governments.
  • The World Bank is currently examining its effort in S&T, especially with an eye to linking research with education, and in coupling Bank efforts in S&T with existing Bank programs in the major sectors of its activities.

10) By taking prompt advantage of these conditions, the Southern Cone nations have the opportunity to act as pioneers in establishing the prototypes for the Millennium Institutes, which could then be multiplied for the benefit of the developing world, from Southeast Asia to Africa.

The desire to advance science and technology has led to many experiments around the world, including university-industry collaborations and international research centers at centralized sites. The Millennium Institutes will combine the best features of those programs so as to exploit new synergies and provide opportunities for scientists to work in their home or neighboring countries. Individual Institutes will adapt their missions to local needs and strengths. Their primary goals will be world-class excellence, a focus on people, and connectivity at all levels.

We are suggesting Millennium Institutes as possible sources of vision and guidance for the future. The political leadership of the world is looking for an action-oriented institutional mechanism to enable the full participation of nations in the globalization of science and technology. The fast-paced development of our science-led civilization has opened an opportunity to adopt a new strategy characterized by synthesis, integration, connectedness and international cooperation.