More than a week ago, my attention was drawn to this interesting link to a guide on including scientists in innovation policy making, published by UK's National Environmental Research Council (NERC). NERC sees itself as an entity whose purpose is to undertake research in areas which have critical public policy implications.
This objective requires it to not only communciate the results of its research to those in the corridors of power, but also help the governmental and non-governmental machinery make sense of the results in a manner which helps them calibrate their responses to issues and challenges. This, in turn, requires a certain level of policy awareness on the part of a researcher because in most such cases, the trigger for the research is the issue and so the research cannot be open-ended. A practical spin-off is to help the researcher retain his focus using policy issues as “blinkers”, if I may call them so, which, needless to say, keeps research budgets within check.
As for the angle for policy makers, sound scientific evidence to back their proposals is always an add on. More so, if the issue concerns innovation in general or environmental research, which in the past few years has provided us with a lot of food for thought on validity of certain claims made by warring groups and the “evidence” cited to substantiate their respective positions. The long and short of it is that the guide lays emphasis on increased awareness on the part of scientists and policy makers which is possible only by frequent interactions.
From an IP perspective, I am sure patent practitioners would agree when one says that this kind of informed communication channel is an absolute must between the inventor, patentee, patent drafter and the litigator if the activity has to be meaningful and yield results. I would say that communication within these individuals who are involved in patenting and defending patents would seem an obvious requirement, what wouldn't seem banal is the need for such a guide book for the judiciary because wherever science comes into play, policy cannot be viewed in isolation.
A few others could do with this guide too...a year ago, I was surprised to read a mail from the member of the editorial board of a journal in which he sounded very sure of himself that the decision taken by certain countries, including India, not to grant patents to computer programmes per se was but a policy decision and that a discussion on the scientific underpinnings of such a decision was irrelevant...I think this guide would come in handy when I try again, with cautious optimism, to explain my point of view to the gentleman...