Job cuts at AgResearch – Am I missing something ?

Last week AgResearch announced plans to cut jobs to the tune of $5 million worth [Herald article]. Their reasoning being, in order to return a “more satisfactory profit”. Building on my MBE Forum- NIWA post, apparently CRIs are expected to turn a profit, I should hope so, a small one at that.

However CRIs along with our Universities act as the primary developing grounds for our emerging scientists and knowledge centers where research heavily aligned with this country’s core competencies is built upon (i.e the AgBio field). Job cutting at these institutions simply begins to strip NZ’s talent pools and knowledge tanks, sending scientist offshore and halting the research they once directed.

What kind of job security do scientists have in this country if a position at a government funded institution is not stable ? Retaining and developing talented staff should be paramount to their profit driven objectives. Don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe CRIs should be acting more like corporates in terms of fulfilling their commercial potential. My quarrel lays with in how they execute this, there are better ways than taking what seems a lazy approach to keep JUST out of the red. Say….. see where you can offer more services or contract research or begin to reel in the value from your IP banks. 35 available licensing opportunities x 150K each – there’s your 5 million (plus a little for a ‘healthy’ surplus). I know its not that simple, but I’m sure it can’t be that hard either.

PS: My frustration begins dissipates as I find they do have their own pre-seed fund.

Update 4/11/08 – Maybe they took my advice 🙂 – LINK

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