Public and Private sectors turn partners in new Icelandic research strategy

Following the success of the cooperation with Biotech Company deCODE genetics, Iceland has put partnership between the public and private sectors at the heart of a new strategy for research and development. The aim is to focus more on research that benefits public interest, according to the strategy.
Since signing a deal giving deCODE genetics exclusive access to DNA from the country’s population, the company has played an important role in Icelandic research activity. Now the governments Science and Technology Policy Council (STPC) wish to transfer this partnership strategy to other areas of research and development.

There is a need to create a forum for cooperation between universities, spin-offs and research intensive SMEs, innovative high-tech companies and public research institutions, according to the strategy.

Embedded in the strategy there is also an expressed wish that private enterprises share of the expenses in connection with research and development should be increased from the current 52 percent to 60 percent by 2009. The council wishes to increase the number of companies performing their own research and development, and will work to improve the market conditions for research based companies.

A key challenge in such a partnership strategy will be to secure scientific freedom in the face of commercial demands.
Freedom of inquiry at the universities must be ensured when their ties with companies become closer and cooperation intensifies, it is said in the strategy.

In the wake of deCODEs success, the STPC wants increasing innovation in the health sector, with biobanks and patient records used for research and for improved service to patients. At the same time there is a need to review the legal and ethical framework that controls such research.

The STPC believes that research in areas that benefit the public interest, such as food and lifestyle, will be decisive for the development of Icelandic society.

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