The power of investing in research and development

I watched a documentary on the Dstv discovery channel titled, a mission to Saturn which was fascinating. I got to learn about the Cassini–Huygens

I watched a documentary on the Dstv discovery channel titled, a mission to Saturn which was fascinating. I got to learn about the Cassini–Huygens spacecraft, which was launched in 1997 and stayed in Orbit from 2004 to 2017. That is 13 cool years in space from the Earth. That means, if you were to travel there, the trip would take 13 years in transit! I want you to take the time to think about that.

If you are a science enthusiast, you already know from Wikipedia that:

“At its closest, Saturn is 1.2 billion kilometres away from Earth. So, with today’s spacecraft technology, you will need about eight years to make the trip.” According to NASA, currently, Saturn has 53 confirmed moons with 29 additional provisional moons awaiting confirmation.  These facts are mind-boggling. But you cannot know them unless you open up your minds and read.

Information available online indicates that:

NASA will destroy a $3.26 billion Saturn probe to protect an alien water world. The Cassini spacecraft, which launched toward Saturn in 1997, is running low on fuel. To avoid accidentally crashing into and contaminating a nearby moon that may harbor alien life, NASA is going to destroy the robot.”

The ability to explore. To seek. To probe space. Think big, is what sets America apart. The country invests a fortune in research and development. The only R&D gives new knowledge and helps discover new things. Imagine the value of the image rights, discoveries, new findings, from the Cassini NASA probe findings? New books have been published and more will be published. The people who worked on the project will continue providing more insights. And I am sure great findings like minerals of value will only be known to the American scientists and researchers.

You cannot beat a country like that.

Research and development is the primary source of intellectual firepower. That is what makes America great. And the same feats are being achieved by Russia, China, Europe, Japan, and other great nations.

Take a careful analysis of the photo below. The people had an idea of a mobile phone but lacked the technology to make it happen. Several years later, mobile phones are a powerful tool for social transformation.

As many Ugandans and other people “tie” money in real estate, many start-ups in Europe, America, Asia, etc are investing a lot of money in technology and scalable systems. Their stock in trade is research and development. Apple, spends a fortune in R&D, discovering new ways of doing things and patenting their technology. Today, Apple is making a lot of money from the online subscription models than they do from the sale of unit pieces of their phones. Consider this: 2,0000,000 own an Apple phone, and 50% of these subscribe to their iTunes music library or online iCloud back or arcade gaming and pay the just US $20 monthly. That is the cool US $20,000,000 monthly!

That is why governments, especially in developing countries must encourage their young brains to interest themselves in science and technology, research, and support innovators. It is good to promote farming and agriculture. But if you are looking at making Unicorns, also known as starts-ups valued at the US $1b or more, you get the highest return on investment by investing in creative thinking, innovations, and ecosystems. The government must spearhead the investments in such technologies.

For example, without research and development, the traditional methods of fish preservation at landing sites in Uganda remain, salting, and drying the fish. Imagine the number of people interested in a low-cost solution to address such a challenge to be able to transport fish fresh! That calls for a fund to research such issues.

Many young University graduates have invested in game-changing technologies. These need marketing, branding, and global exposure. The government must fund the promotion of such innovations at global conferences and events, as well as into a sandbox available to all citizens to enable cloud hosting of apps and testing. This will lower the overall costs of investing in digital solutions.

Without research and development, we would probably be carrying telephone kiosks as mobile phones. Let’s all embrace creative thinking and fund the people with the brains to make it happen.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2021. All rights reserved.  

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