Creating Impactful Science and the Rise of Market Logic in Ireland

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
TW1.3.01 (Tower One)
Jennifer Kutzleb, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA
Over the last three decades, science has transformed from an economic resource to an economic engine and driver of economic development. While network collaboration between science and industry, and government intervention has been found to play a key role in generating economic growth through innovation, how these collaborations should be achieved and how governments should play a role is less understood. This study examine one of Ireland's most successful university-industry research centers, which is aggressively pursuing a promising, although controversial, area of research and innovation: the brain-gut-microbiota axis. This research center looks to connect the gut bacteria to mental health and mental illness. Using archival data and in-depth interviews with key Irish stakeholders, I examine how government intervention and collaborative networks, between the scientific community and industry, shapes emerging scientific fields, produces commercially viable scientific innovations and catalyzes economic growth. With this study, I found that Irish government agencies, adopting the idea of science as economic engine, are increasingly demanding science research have economic and societal impact, especially after the 2008 economic crisis. Scientists, working within government funded university-industry research centers, must carefully navigate this new market logic and the more established, and often competing, logic of science - the idea of pursuing science for the sake of knowledge regardless of its application. These scientists, however, do not passively accept government mandates. Instead, they negotiate and reinterpret these two logics and often "talk back" to government agencies. In turn, government agencies often flexibly adapt to scientists’ push back and reshape policies.  I argue that while the initial push for impact came from the Irish government, the rhetoric, metrics and expectations that define these impacts are "co-created", although not equally, by government agencies, industry and the scientific community and that the created narrative shapes the Irish innovation system and policy.