Image: The Alchymist, In Search of the Philosopher’s Stone (1771), by Joseph Wright, illustrating Hennig Brand’s discovery of phosphorus. Collection of The Derby Museum and Art Gallery.
Warning: long-ish. If you like, skip the middle section (history of the discovery of phosphorus) or skip the opening and conclusion (open science vs. commercialization). It’s kind of two posts in one.
Last week I was working on a grant proposal, to an agency called the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation. I was feeling a bit soiled, since NBIF is unabashedly about industrial innovation and commercialization, and I’ve always fancied myself a basic/pure/curiosity-driven scientist*. A move into more applied work (mostly forestry-related) is new for me. I really struggled to write the section about how the intellectual property generated by my proposal would be commercialized – partly because I just don’t have any interest in doing so, and partly because (as a consequence) I really don’t know how.
One thing was obvious, though: Continue reading