It would be an exaggeration to say that what LIMS does is best described by its name: the London Institute for Mathematical Sciences. But it would not be far from the truth.
Word by word, here is a breakdown.
London. LIMS is in the centre of London, a global scientific hub.
Institute. It is a private, non-profit institute: it covers its own costs.
For. It exists to support its scientists, not the other way around.
Mathematical. It does theoretical research, not experimental.
Sciences. It is open to all areas of science, including mathematics.
That provides a good start. The following 12 principles give a more detailed description.
LIMS is in the centre of London, a meeting place and destination for scientists across the world. It is like a university research department, but with no teaching or administrative duties. It hosts visiting students but does not award degrees.
LIMS is a private, charitable institution: it covers its own costs through research grants and donations. Its premises includes offices, meeting rooms and a seminar room. LIMS competes with the world’s leading universities and research centres.
LIMS exists to support its scientists, not the other way around. Accordingly, the scientists are the leaders of the Institute, not the administration. The job of the administration is to help, without imposing how, the scientists do science.
LIMS supports basic research in the theoretical sciences, especially physics and mathematics but also quantitative aspects of biology, chemistry and finance. While it has no laboratories of its own, many of its scientists work with experimentalists.
LIMS’ principal goal is doing scientific research. It hires the best research scientists from Britain and around the world and gives them the support and freedom to do what they do best: make fundamental discoveries.
Universities have multiple goals: theory and experiment; science and arts; research and education. Systems suitable for one may not be right for others. By focusing only on theoretical scientific research, LIMS is a really simple organisation.
The most successful research institutes tend to have the fewest rules. LIMS makes few organisational demands; rather it is a place to think, individually and with others. Its scientists have control over their funding, office space and support.
LIMS believes that theorists pursue discoveries not just for their utility, but also to enrich the world of ideas, which has its own beauty. This bind between truth and beauty guides LIMS’ approach to not only research but also architecture and structure.
LIMS frees up scientists’ time by providing talented support staff for help with publishing papers, winning grants and traveling. The support staff are not segregated away from the scientists but work closely with them to get things done.
LIMS believes that in today’s global scientific market, the top scientists deserve the top academic salaries. LIMS pays more than its competitors and does not lay claim to IP. LIMS focuses on making great discoveries and believes the funding will follow.
Bureaucracy is a consequence of complexity. By simplifying conventional academic practices – many of which are based on frozen accidents – LIMS generates less red tape and more research. It aims to give the best scientific return on investment.
Scientists work best when they are part of a community and are able to exchange ideas both within and across disciplines. LIMS has no departments and supports collegiality in ways similar to those found in the UK’s ancient university colleges.