Rethinking Academia - Funding scientific research: How to foster knowledge and innovation fairly and efficiently?

Jan 21, 2020 from 16:00
Lise-Meitner Lecture Hall, Faculty of Physics, University of Vienna, Strudlhofgasse 4, 1090, Vienna

One of the cornerstones of modern academic research is the system by which funds are distributed to carry it forward. Currently, the allocation of funds within academia requires individual scientists or teams thereof to write research proposals that must illustrate the research that is planned to be carried out in the following years, the cost that it will entail, its impact, and even the problems that will be encountered during the process. The proposals are then subject to peer-review evaluation and eventually accepted or rejected.
A timely matter of discussion is whether such a scheme is successful in keeping the funding system suitable and up-to-date to modern research. Are some research areas, such as the more foundational ones, discriminated by this allocation of funds? Is the current system effective to avoid discrimination towards minorities in science? To secure their careers, scientists have to apply, virtually every year and often unsuccessfully, to several calls for funding. Studies show that scientists spend on average about 150 hours for each proposal [1], resulting every year in an enormous amount of invested working time and energy. Are there more efficient alternatives? How can truly innovative projects be funded while requesting detailed predictions of the outcomes as well of the risks that they entail?