Enter the office of a university president and you see the portrait of the founder, perhaps a framed degree, sports mementos, and some photographs of the current occupant with a Nobel Prize winner or U.S. president. In addition to a large desk and a flat-screen computer terminal, there are several comfortable sofas covered in the school colors with drapes to match. The walls are lined with bookshelves filled with enticing titles from a variety of disciplines, and everything is arranged neatly, including the files on the mahogany desk. No matter how many of these offices you enter or how hard you search, you will be hard pressed to find a Lucite cube commemorating an initial public offering or a framed agreement for the licensing of university technology. Buildings are not named for university presidents based on the number of companies created during their tenures, and presidents are not remembered for the amount of licensing revenue generated during their years in office. Enterprise creation is seldom viewed as central to the mission of a research university. However, we believe enterprise creation is increasingly important both as an independent activity and as an indicator of the impact of a university on its region, the country, and the world. If a university is effectively attacking the world’s biggest problems, then enterprises of all kinds will inevitably be a by-product of the effort.
A better place to look for the Lucite cubes and framed licenses celebrating commercial success is the technology