COLUMBIA SCIENCE COMMITS

Science lies at the heart of solving the great challenges facing the world today.

Columbia Arts & Sciences is partnering with stakeholders across the university and beyond to commit our world-class resources to urgent, global challenges in climate, health, and technology.

 

COLUMBIA SCIENCE COMMITS

Science lies at the heart of solving the great challenges facing the world today.

Columbia Arts & Sciences is partnering with stakeholders across the university and beyond to commit our world-class resources to urgent, global challenges in climate, health, and technology.

Closing the Innovation Gap

Large research universities play a special role in society as engines of discovery and innovation. Most of the U.S. economic growth after World War II was developed through U.S. federal government investment in novel and innovative research in the science and engineering halls of major universities. This public-private partnership spawned the creation of entirely new industrial sectors – biotech, health care, computing, global communications – that are cornerstones of the modern economy.

Today, global society faces urgent, complex challenges related to health and human well-being, climate change and its impacts on food, water, and shelter, and advancing technological innovation and discovery. Federal investment in basic scientific research and development has not kept pace with economic growth and research investment as a percent of GDP has steadily declined over the past decade, yet the need for this knowledge to spur innovation and solutions to solve global challenges has never been greater.

This widening “innovation gap” is a call to action. There is an urgent need to solve critical challenges that threaten the security, health, and prosperity of global society. There is a need to change the way we do and fund mission critical science. There is a need to educate and train the next generation of leaders. There is a need to engage the global intellectual community. There is a need to build new institutions that can implement change by connecting advances in science and engineering with those in the public and private sectors who can implement evidence-based solutions.

A New Model: Science as Startup

The scale and urgency of these global challenges requires a new model of engagement, one that accelerates discovery and innovation and leads to public and private sector solutions. We propose “Science as Startup,” a new way of fast-tracking the research needed to solve the complex challenges we face in health care, neuroscience, climate, energy, and developing needed new materials.

Science as Startup takes cues from the entrepreneurial startup culture to spur knowledge creation and to build institutions that translate this knowledge into action. Characteristics that define this effort include a commitment to acting now, focusing on strengths, funding at levels that insure success, and partnering with experts to build the institutional framework to lead change; including, in Columbia’s case, our cross-campus assets in the humanities and social sciences. Advancing our scientific knowledge is only part of the challenge; implementing viable solutions requires new public and private sector partnerships and links to the business and finance worlds.

Columbia’s location in New York City presents specific advantages for achieving this goal. As a global hub for finance, business, trade, and international co-operation, including the United Nations, New York City is the optimal location to lead science-centered efforts to accelerate discovery, and then turn this new knowledge into viable solutions for global society.

Our Priority Initiatives

Columbia Science Commits focuses on six areas where Columbia science has world-class intellectual leadership and where the promise for transformative innovation is greatest: neuroscience, precision medicine, climate change and its impacts on life, and the next generation of nanotechnology and materials development. Underpinning these key topics are the essential elements and tools needed for all great research: ground breaking discovery science, innovations in data science and informatics, and advancing Columbia’s preeminent scientific leadership.