Groundbreaking research and radical innovation

May Britt and Edvar Moser’s discoveries are the result of groundbreaking research, the goal of which is to find answers or explanations that dramatically advance our knowledge.

This often takes a long time, and the researchers will often build on the groundbreaking discoveries of other researchers. This new knowledge will in turn give us an opportunity to resolve specific problems and will generally form the basis for further research that will provide even more new knowledge about the researcher’s field of work, such as the brain.

See: Research and innovation on new stamps

Basic research, applied research and innovation go hand in hand. Ultrasound devices are an example of innovation that builds on research.

Basic research

The search for new and greater insight has an inherent value. The application and utilisation of insight may not be obvious until many years later. Innovation is when knowledge from research is used in new ways to resolve problems and develop products, services or processes. You cannot reach the last stage without the first.

The very best researchers are often those who come up with revolutionary innovations, such as the combination of Doppler technology and ultrasound images. Knowledge from different types of research is combined in a new way to give us completely new solutions to problems or brand new technology, such as Doppler ultrasound systems. When the result is something entirely new or replaces existing solutions, we call it radical innovation.

In general, there is a major risk involved in groundbreaking research and radical innovation since neither the researchers nor those funding the research can be sure that the time and money spent, which is often many years of work and huge investments, will bring about a valuable result.

Daring to invest resources in something that may not have an obvious goal – or something that does have a goal, but it is uncertain whether the combination of knowledge will achieve it – can be risky business. When taking such risks gives results, it would appear to be sensible and the right choice, but it may not look that way to start off with, or later in the process. Daring to go for it and investing resources in such risky business is therefore one of the most important things we do to achieve more groundbreaking research and radical innovation that can, for example, help us to deal with climate change, make progress in medicine and health, lay the foundation for new workplaces and help our society to remain a well-functioning welfare society.