-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Financial Support for the Academy of Sciences
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 2010 17:12:17 -0500 (EST)
From: Robert J. Le Roy 
Reply-To: leroy@uwaterloo.ca
To: primeminister@government.bg, Predsedatel@parliament.bg

The Right Honourable Boyoko Borisov
Prime Minister of Bulgaria
Sofia, Bulgaria

Dear Prime Minister:

I am writing to add my voice to those asking you to reconsider the policies which have led your government to drastically reduce the level of support for basic scientific research in your Universities and at the Academy of Science.

If a nation does not sit on immense amounts of natural resources - oil, natural gas, and/or minerals - the absolutely essential resource on which which is economy depends is its intellectual capital - the skills and abilities of its people.  The most highly trained people are the most valuable, as it is their ideas and innovations which lead to new companies and new jobs.  It is a harsh reality that the infrastructure to provide such training cannot be turned on and off like a tap, to suit the budgetary pressures of the day, and if it is destroyed, it can take decades to rebuild.  The existence of strong universities and Research Institutes with aggressive, internationally respected research programs is an essential national resource which should be protected and supported under essentially all situations, as it is from the creative people who are trained and nurtured there that the future of your economy will depend. This is also not an area where government planners can lead, since the innovations of the future are sparks in the minds of independent, creative individuals, and do not sprout where directed by some bureaucratic decision, however well meaning.

As an example from my own institution, some years ago a bright inquisitive undergraduate engineer at Waterloo named Michael Lazaridis decided to drop out of his upper year engineering program to start a company, now called Research in Motion (RIM), which produces the Blackberry wireless e-mail/telephone devices which are now ubiquitous around the world. However, he would not have come here to study if Waterloo did not have a vigorous, well funded undergraduate program and research environment. No-one could have predicted that support for graduate and undergraduate training at Waterloo would have led to the development of a world-leading wireless technology company based here, with all of the attendant jobs, and short-sighted govenment actions in any number of a series of difficult economic periods could have strangled the university and the innovation environment which gave rise to this enormously successful industry.

In summary, I most strongly urge you, for the sake of the economic future of your people and your nation, to renew your support for the research and training undertaken by your Academy of Sciences and in your universities. You have very good internationally competitive researchers there, and without your support, they will be unable to inspire and train the bright young people who are your economic future.

Yours sincerely,

Robert J. Le Roy

Professor of Chemistry
University of Waterloo