Volume: Vol1, Issue 1/2012

Published on: Mar 2012

Contains 11 articles

Elements of research investment decisions






1Spitalul Universitar de Urgență București



The dynamics of discovery and innovation are a direct consequence of a range of decisions to allocate scarce research resources: time and focus of scientists, functioning time of existing devices and installations, consumables, funding of various types, jobs, storage and communication, etc. A prerequisite to quantitative modelling of the scarce resource allocation process, a process that here is called “investment”, is the mapping of the structure of the system in terms of production and use of such resources. At the heart of this process are the allocation decisions by each of many decidents. These decisions have an intrinsically subjective nature, governed by individual and cultural perceptions of one’s own’s interests and sense of relevance. In this essay we examine a broad range of investment decision types in view of their components: initial data for decision, decision options, costs, expected impact, predictive model that connects data and options to the impact, relevance to the investor, the interest function that connects the expected impact to the relevance, risks as well as decision delegation. The primordial decision, that has to be present in any research investment, is the decision of a scientist to commit to a theme for some time. Investment issues are thus a relevant concern for all scientists. All other types are coinvestments into the primordial type: collaboration decisions by colleagues, private grants and donations, creation and allocations of posts by research institutions, institutional founding and funding instruments, milestone awards, project funding, comercial investment, experimental development on demand and strategic acquisitions. For any coinvestment to occur it must simultaneously reach a relevance threshold for each of the coinvestors, each having his own sense of relevance. For successful commercial deployment in particular this must take place repeatedly with each round of funding with different coinvestors. An antiportfolio effect acts towards reducing success rates when investment risks combine in this way. The subjective component and continuous nature of most investment decisions have to be stressed. We make a short historical inquiry into the evolution of each type as well as an assessment of its current situation in Romania. An estimation of the short term perspectives of each type is made, particularly in view of changes due to the emergence of new models of collaboration over the net. This phenomenon together with the expansion of the knowledge economy and, for the romanian research system, the adaptation to the ways of the international research world — to which it is currently reconnecting — amount to an increasing rate of change in the way research is done. There is thus a pressing need for further indepth, quantitative analysis of the constraints and mechanisms of investment types and their elementary components.





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