By Murray Leinster in his short story – “A logic called Joe”.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Logic_Named_Joe for the summary and the link to the short story.  Brilliant!

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In 1915 the Committee for Scientific and Industrial Research was established, with a fund of a million pounds to encourage groups of firms to set up o-operative industrial research associations. (http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/details?uri=C89 )  In December 1916 a separate governmental department was established in recognition of the increasing importance of scientific research – the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.  A series of laboratories were established or pulled in under its umbrella, for example, the National Engineering Laboratory, the Radio Research Station, and even the Pest Infestation Laboratory.

Then in 1965 the Department was replaced by the Ministry of Technology – part of the Wilson government’s drive to bring advanced technology and new processes into industry. Merged with the Board of Trade in 1970 it became the Department of Trade and Industry.    Under its auspices the research associations flourished.

By 1992 there was a rich and varied portfolio of research associations receiving DTI funding in order to support and disseminate research into industrial practice.  This community included (http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/written_answers/1992/oct/19/research-and-technology) organisations as varied as:

  • AMTRI: Advanced Manufacturing Technology Research Institute
  • BHRA: British Hydromechanics Research Association
  • BCRA: British Ceramic Research Association
  • BCIRA: British Cast Iron Research Association
  • BGIRA: British Glass Industry Research Association
  • BLC: British Leather Confederation
  • BTTG: British Textile Technology Group
  • CATRA: Cutlery Allied Trades Association
  • Contract Flooring Association
  • FCRA: Fabric Care Research Association
  • FIRA: Furniture Industry Research Association
  • MIRA: The Motor Industry Research Association
  • PERA: Production Engineering Research Association
  • PIRA: Paper., Printing Packaging Research Association
  • PRA: The Paint Research Association
  • SATRA Footwear Technology Centre
  • SCRATA: Steel Castings Research Trade Association
  • SRAMA: Spring Research & Manufacturers Association
  • TRADA: Timber Research and Development Association

Gradually these became purely commercial operations, merged or otherwise vanished as the funding dried up.

With their disappearance the next incarnation for encouraging the dissemination and uptake of scientific research was the Faraday Partnerships, followed in their turn by the Knowledge Transfer Networks.  And now the Catapult Centres.

What is it they say about necessity and invention?  This time of institutions.