University - Based Entrepreneurs, Intellectual Property, and the Emerging Role of Universities in Economic Development: Research Centers and Institutions Are Undisputedly the Most Important Factor in Incubating High-Tech Industries. (1)

Article excerpt

No great city exists without a great university. Centers of economic activity and intellectual activity go hand in hand. In contrast to the past, when university scholars were discouraged from becoming entrepreneurs, a new generation of university faculty is now closing the gap between the world of academic scholarship and economic activity. The purpose of this issue of Business Perspectives is to build on our understanding of the evolving role of intellectual property as an engine for economic growth and prosperity.

Clearly, most of the highest-growth and highest-income areas of the country are linked to applications of intellectual, not physical, capital. (2) Universities have a unique role to play in this emerging environment. Unlike our efforts to separate issues of church and state, universities are being asked-and are in some cases being forced by financial realities-to play a larger role in the economic growth of the communities in which they exist. Some universities have clearly responded by recognizing the value of campus-bas d intellectual activity, while others have not. Some universities have structured business partnerships, licensing agreements, and equity partnerships with the sole intent to gain from the commercial activities of their faculty. Some universities are focusing their activities on research issues that have both academic and commercial applications. But others, locked in traditional structures, have not encouraged--and even continue to discourage--the development of entrepreneurial activities.

Those institutions seem to fear that the traditional academic research and teaching mission of the university will be either tainted or overrun by the "for-profit" component of entrepreneurial adventures. …