UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Re-Invigorating HIBAR Research for the 21st Century : Enhancing Fundamental Research Excellence in Service to Society Whitehead, Lorne; Slovic, Scott, 1960-; Nelson, Janet E.


More than ever, society needs research breakthroughs to address major problems. Universities have a key role to play in discovering the required new knowledge and guiding its application. However, since World War II, universities have been encouraged to focus mainly on curiositybased research, with corporations carrying out practical work. This division worked well in the last half of the 20th century, when there was considerable funding for long-term research in the laboratories of major corporations. Today, however, those firms face greater competition, and the resultant financial constraints have foreshortened their research time-horizons. Universities are poised to compensate by re-emphasizing long-term, application-oriented research, but great care must be taken to strengthen fundamental research as well. These objectives can be achieved simultaneously by bolstering a time-honored class of research projects labelled “Highly Integrative Basic And Responsive” (HIBAR), which combine fundamental and applied approaches through partnerships with practical experts. This will help replicate, within universities, the breakthrough-generation capacity that once flourished in major corporate laboratories. Toward this end, a network of universities called the HIBAR Research Alliance (HRA) has recently formed to strengthen HIBAR research, by helping universities to encourage it (while also improving equity, diversity, inclusion, and academic freedom), and by helping researchers to carry out HIBAR projects (while also advancing their careers). The HRA aims to increase the rate of HIBAR projects in universities, from about one project in 20 today, to one in 5 by 2030, while strengthening all types of research excellence.

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