It should be possible to identify, for a field of research, the adopted dogma both in theory and in practice, as well as the variance between them, the frontiers beyond them and the potential to build bridges between them, even where separated by a seemingly galactic divide in incentives and objectives.
Earlier periods of remarkable scientific innovation appeared to support researchers, in pursuing curiosities which may not have been well articulated, conformed with consensus, or aligned with the interests or priorities held by other stakeholders. The prevailing economic, policy and scientific conditions in those times reflect the cottage industries that fostered discovery science. With the growth in population of the research community, the development of regulatory and industrial paradigms which influence the direction of research, and the bifurcation of science and funding responsibilities, the dependency on peer review to assess research proposals has put an otherwise good system to use for a purpose for which it was not designed and is not well suited.
Whilst criticism is rich, the policy cycle appears to frequently commission expert reviews of the system, but stops short of testing recommendations for decentralised structures, that displace the monotone, unifying governance structure that directs the flow of resources. It's tempting for policy makers to ask researchers to make themselves more available to operate as the servants of industry, in an effort to foster a self-sustaining economic market from the academic engine.
The sunk costs and frictions inherent in the current system are avoidably high. They drive talent away from research and hinder potential within a leaky translation pipeline.
There is a diversity of resources to support research. Some are latent, and others are deployed in sub-optimal ways. By tweaking the shape of the pipeline, Coalfacer seeks to make a contribution toward accelerated progress in both exploratory and exploitative research.
Coalfacer's tools embed customisable processes to identify relevant data, techniques and insights in the research proposal and design phase. These are sourced from human and data analysis and are backed up with evidence from activity in relevant markets. Researchers and evaluators alike can focus effort around relevant opportunities and enhance them by connecting relevant experts, assets and resources, within the context of the governance framework that will be applied to manage a research program and assess its impact. Research resources can be better allocated toward relevant programs.
This project started in 2012. From initial sessions at the farmers market at Imperial College, London and the science stand-ups in the back room of a pub in Cambridge. It happened against the backdrop of a political rhetoric asking researchers to meet industry at the coalface of applied research. The story since then is one for another day - 9 years later, researchers across disciplines have contributed toward the Design Studio and we're excited to show you how it works.