- There are many grains of sand above us. Those represent all the software tools developed in life science research.
- There is a large void below us. This represents the need for widely applicable tools in the life sciences.
- At the bottom there are also grains of sand. They are well settled. These represent the current technology: commercially available tools and well-serviced open source packages.
- push: a few academic groups that have the capability and capacity to make their tools available
- pull: a few companies that look far ahead and are able to see and use the potential of an academic tool
In practice, the neck is too narrow. There are many more valuable tools than are taken up. A team like ours can help to make the neck larger by making existing research tools applicable for wider use as a service to life scientists with a clear need (we call it professionalization). But it is sometimes hard to convince funding parties to pay for this. It is also hard to convince researchers to work on making their software better: professionalization does not generate new high-impact papers. We work on convincing the funding parties that it is better to professionalize existing successes than to reinvent them using research money. And we work on convincing the scientists that professionalization of their output will lead to higher citation scores on their existing publications.
Science wants novelty. And the current Dutch finance climate is directed towards applied science, towards innovation in society. Look at the picture, and you can see that these are hard to combine. Innovation starts where novelty ends. The only way to make the combination is to include development.