doing the most innovative and important research
in the fields of human genetics and nanotechnology?
A team of U.S. and European researchers will be asking
that question through a survey that 1,200 leading
scientists, industrial researchers, editors and research
program directors will be receiving in June.
questionnaire is part of an 18-month study to determine
what factors lead to especially innovative and
important research – with a goal of determining
what institutions might do to foster it
on Creative Capabilities and the Promotion of Highly
Innovative Research (CREA) is being carried
out by researchers at the Fraunhofer
Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI)
in Germany, the Technology
Policy and Assessment Center (TPAC) in the
School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute
of Technology in the United States, and Sussex
University's Science and Technology Policy Research
Unit in the United Kingdom.
Using the results of the survey, the research team
aims to identify about 60 scientists and research
teams on both sides of the Atlantic that are responsible
for creative research that has produced innovative
breakthroughs in human genetics and nanotechnology.
Using in-depth interviews with the individuals and
systematic studies of scientific productivity, the
CREA study will then attempt to determine the factors,
both personal and environmental, that helped those
researchers work so effectively.
“Past research, especially in psychology, has looked
at individual creativity,” noted Philip
Shapira , a professor in Georgia Tech's School
of Public Policy and the U.S. research team
leader. “That's obviously important, but we particularly
want to understand the environmental and institutional
circumstances that lead to highly innovative discoveries.”
The research team has some ideas about the important
“Some of the hypotheses we will test relate to organizational
flexibility, interdisciplinary activity, strategic
vision, core funding stability, and environments
that tolerate failures and allow people to recover
from them,” he said.
The study is expected to shed light on such issues
- How to balance support between individuals and
- When and where multidisciplinary research is
most appropriate, and
- The best ways to stimulate and reward creativity.
The study is also expected to highlight differences
between U.S. and European research systems in encouraging
and rewarding creativity. The findings could be important
to government, industry and other agencies that fund
research, as well as to the researchers themselves.
“The ultimate goal for this study will be to use
the knowledge we gain to make recommendations about
the design of science policy to support innovative
research, and how research institutions should be
organized and managed to optimize these results,” said Dr.
Thomas Heinze , one of the study directors at
the Fraunhofer ISI in Germany.
The disciplines of nanotechnology and human genetics
were chosen because they are rapidly growing research
areas where the most promising results can be expected,
The study is being sponsored by the European Union's
program in New
and Emerging Science and Technology (NEST).