Kauffman Seminar Asks How Universities Can Improve Innovation

3/12/09Follow @bvbigelow

It’s taken as a given that universities are integral to the innovation process. Researchers create technology, the university finds a licensee or a startup company is formed to develop the invention, and products are created that drive growth in the economy.

But that is a simplistic view of a complex system. And today, a select group of researchers from around the world is gathering at U.C. San Diego to help examine the process of university-industry interaction and technology transfer in more detail. Their focus is a series of questions—that have long been asked but have yet to be definitively answered and are of abiding interest here at Xconomy: What is the true connection between research universities and innovation, and how does it work? How does knowledge really move from the academic laboratory to industry? And are there new ways to improve and accelerate the process?

Sponsored by the Kansas City, MO-based Kauffman Foundation, the seminar is intended to help analyze a global research effort focused on what industry wants from universities, and how those goals can be achieved. The research, part of an onging multi-year study, consists of interviews and other data drawn from more than 90 companies in four countries where innovation and new technologies play a key economic role: the United States, Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

“What we are trying to accomplish is for people to think about what incentivizes and supports a positive interaction between the university and industry,” says Mary Walshok, a UCSD Associate Vice Chancellor and a seminar host. The participants are “people who care about these things, and who are in a position to influence government policy in the U.S., Japan, Canada and the U.K.”

The three-day event begins with a presentation this evening by Larry Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, which Walshok says operates as an example of university-industry “best practices.”  The invited participants … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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  • parktemp

    Year 2009.

    Given that we started having some semblance of a civilization after 1960.

    That is still almost a half century ago.

    Do we not still know what Universities can do to “improve innovation”! Have Universities only been producing papers recycling ideas from Greek time?

    This issues should have been tackled by all those smart people way before…as a starting point. No wonders we do not really have something that is truly revolutionary (do not consider Xbox, cell phone, HD TV, Viagra, etc., as such).