Friday, November 4, 2011

Innovation in Academe?

This is a comment on an interesting post by Melba Kurman on the Science Progress website regarding the increasing emphasis on commercialization of academic science. Those of us older faculty members who were around before the 1990s surge in marketing of academic research sometimes feel that universities have lost their way. No doubt universities should contribute to economic development through technology transfer when genuine opportunities arise. However, the current emphasis on ‘entrepreneurship’ in academia has led to a skewing of priorities by faculty members and trainees. Instead of a focus on doing excellent science and then possibly considering commercialization as a secondary goal, too many academics now try to rush half-baked science to the market. Ph.D. students and postdocs seem more interesting in taking courses from the business school than in getting into the lab and doing creative experiments. I don’t think this trend bodes well either for the quality of academic research or for the value of technologies being transferred to the commercial arena.