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, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

The current state of Russia’s scientific community is a brilliant study of the power of purpose driven (or lack of) enterprise. In the 2 September 2004 issue of Nature they’ve included a brief glimpse into the Russian Academy of Science. Once the pinnacle of any Russian scientists career, membership in the academy is followed the same path of degradation as the rest of the Russian public sector. In the thirteen years since the fall of communism, the Academy has yet to address the pressing issues of health and industrial innovation. Once respected, the Academy is directionless, un-competitive, and not taken seriously.

Russia’s scientific experience illustrates three important points for those of us striving within a knowledge economy.

First, knowledge without purpose is valueless. That’s not to say research and innovation must be directed at a product before proceeding. It means that knowledge without application is worth as much as a wrench in a world without bolts.

Second, to maintain relevance and respect knowledge must inform the issues of the moment. Russia still has great scientists. However, most are focussed on mathematics and a few branches of physics. The real issues facing Russians are resolving an escalating health crisis and injecting innovation and technological advancing into their struggling industries. Until that’s achieved, the Academy won’t get respect.

Third, knowledge provides a great return on investment if managed successfully. The prestige once enjoyed by the Academy members was the product of purpose-ful, relevant and actionable research. Whether it was pointed at innovative weapon systems, getting people into space, or providing medical insights – the Academy enjoyed success by consistently providing a high ROI.

sift is a quest to provide specialised knowledge to meet the specific needs of entrepreneurs. The test is if the knowledge can bring actionable insights that drive innovation.


[…] ion that continues to trouble current economists is it’s value. As I wrote earlier, valuable knowledge is useful knowledge and ironically, in an ever-growing sea of information, capturin […]