Thursday, July 12, 2007

Private-sector research incentives

U.P.S. and FedEx are each pumping more than $1 billion a year into research, while also looking for new ways to cut costs. “When you handle millions of packages, a minute’s delay can cost a fortune,” said John Kartsonas, an analyst with Citigroup. “Information technology has become essential.”

Meteorologists at both companies routinely outguess official Weather Service forecasts... U.P.S. specifically is collaborating with the F.A.A. on a system — formally, Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast, but usually just called A.D.S.B. — that may make conventional radar obsolete. “We want to make A.D.S.B. the backbone of our future air traffic system,” said Vincent Capezzuto, the manager of the program for the F.A.A.

The research at U.P.S. is paying off. Last year, it cut 28 million miles from truck routes — saving roughly three million gallons of fuel — in good part by mapping routes that minimize left turns. This year, U.P.S. began offering customers a self-service system for redirecting packages that are en route.
--Claudia Deutsch, NYT, on the power of the profit motive

1 comment:

Sophist said...

That is remarkable - I do wonder why pharmaceutical research continues to require input from small academic labs as well as huge pharma labs when the profit motive should encourage innovation. Is it because there is a short term punishment in big pharma or established biotech for innovation? Or because big pharma/biotech motivates small academics by offering to buy IP rights for innovation?