Why is this a good time for universities to do more HIBAR research?

Universities have a key role to play in discovering the required new knowledge and guiding its application. HIBAR research projects have always existed in universities, but they have been less common than the usual forms of basic or applied research. Nevertheless, there are numerous excellent examples. Here, we argue that now is the time to encourage many more HIBAR projects. Indeed, such efforts are now commencing.

Since World War II, universities have been encouraged to focus mainly on curiosity-based research, with corporations carrying out practical work. HIBAR projects have historically been a significant component of the work supported by a wide range of government funding programs, including the work carried out by national laboratories, and this type of research continues to be a significant focus for federal research strategies and funding policies. HIBAR research once flourished as well in major corporate laboratories, but today is substantially reduced in those laboratories. As a consequence, HIBAR efforts overall today are substantially reduced, at a time when the world arguably needs it most.

Universities are poised to make significant contribution toward compensating for the overall reduction in breakthrough research in corporate laboratories by re-emphasizing long-term, application-oriented research. At the same time, great care must be taken to strengthen fundamental research at universities, not diminish it. These objectives can be achieved simultaneously by bolstering HIBAR. Further engagement in HIBAR research also enables universities to better respond to external demands for societal relevance so that they can honor their social contract with the public, without diminishing their key role in knowledge generation.