The StarTribune is running an excellent story on an intellectual property crisis at the University of Minnesota that probably is contextualizable to other “Research I”/”Research Universities (RU/VH)” universities as well: Entrepreneurship is avoided. Perhaps this is a cultural thing:
The university “provides all sorts of disincentives to new technology,” John Alexander, president of Twin Cities Angels, a local investor group, recently told the state’s House Committee on Biosciences and Emerging Technology.
“It was difficult to get access to intellectual property,” said Dale Wahlstrom, a former Medtronic executive who is now chief executive of the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota. “It was a one-sided discussion. If they couldn’t get the optimal deal, they wouldn’t do anything.”
The article goes on to suggest that “the university traditionally lacked the necessary money and managerial talent to turn promising research into viable companies.” As an employee of the University of Minnesota, I feel I should avoid addressing that topic. But, still, I wonder…
- Is the drive for innovation and entrepreneurship what separates really great universities from the others?
- If world-class private universities actively support entrepreneurial activities and support the spinning-off of enterprises (i.e., Stanford and MIT), why shouldn’t land grand institutions do so as well if they are providing for the public good by releasing technologies and other intellectual property that otherwise would not impact society?
- As the rest of the world adopts new intellectual property models (i.e., Creative Commons), what will become of the research institutions that today fail to succeed in realizing opportunities from yesterday’s models?