Research Picks September 2015

Robotic safety rules

Domestic robots are not just electrical appliances, Greek researchers suggest, they can and will manage processes and structures in the home environment that involve organisational and cultural aspects. “These robots could be viewed as socio-technical systems since they are operating in the house and the most domestic scenarios depend on close human-robot interaction,” the team says. Despite Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics”, there are currently no standards for safety. A new approach to safety standard for a future of domestic robot servants has been developed by researchers in Greece. Their proposal fills a gap not only in the standards domain but most importantly in the approach.

Mitka, E. and Mouroutsos, S.G. (2015) ‘Applying the STAMP system safety engineering methodology to the design of a domestic robot’, Int. J. Applied Systemic Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp.81–102

Merging little pharma

The Indian pharmaceutical industry (IPI) is a leader in the developing world, a dynamic and vibrant industry of the developing world. The technology and range of medicines is provides positions it very highly among other developing nationa and it is ranked third in terms of volume of manufacturing. However, under revised pharmaceutical patent laws in India, smaller drug companies might benefit significantly from growing their plant size or else merging with other larger companies to take advantage of the economies of scale and to preclude the significant managerial inefficiencies which currently stymie their economic growth, according to a team at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee.

Mahajan, V., Nauriyal, D.K. and Singh, S.P. (2015) ‘Efficiency trends in the Indian pharmaceutical industry in the new patent regime’, Int. J. Business Performance Management, Vol. 16, No. 4, pp.389–406.

Alien invaders

There is an enormous discrepancy between the scale of damage due to invasive alien species, whether non-indigenous plants or animals, and current expenditure on preventing the spread of such pests in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Tony Jackson of the School of the Environment, at the University of Dundee, recently asked why this should be so: why is such a high-income economy under-investing in biosecurity and is this a more widespread problem? He suggests that a combination of environmental and economic factors has frustrated global efforts to ensure biosecurity and reviews the proposals that have been put forward to remedy this situation.

Jackson, T. (2015) ‘Addressing the economic costs of invasive alien species: some methodological and empirical issues’, Int. J. Sustainable Society, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp.221–240.

The nanotechnology domain

A vast generic research domain, such as nanotechnology, is incredibly complex and spans countless industries. As such, there is a need for improved understanding of how intermediary organisations facilitate the connections between research and development in academia and industry and commercialise the technology that emerges from such a domain. UK researchers have investigated the nature of such intermediaries in the context of knowledge management and have demonstrated that knowledge creation and exploration, knowledge storage, and knowledge transfer capacity are critical to the success of intermediaries. As such, proprietary access to an extensive network database is essential. The team’s conclusions have implications for those utilising such intermediaries.

Mount, M., Milewski, S. and Fernandes, K. (2015) ‘Exploring the knowledge complexities of innovation intermediaries: the case of nanotechnology in the UK’, Int. J. Technology Management, Vol. 69, No. 1, pp.20–37.

Author: David Bradley

Award-winning, freelance science writer based in Cambridge, England.