There are plenty of good researchers, excellent resources and subsequent innovations and even more potential opportunity yet to be realized, but serious problems at several levels. However, there are also serious problems with overall perception of entrepreneurs and commercialization at the University and State government levels. Some of this is attributable to legislative and ethics issues that need alignment to better support a University-State-commercial ecosystem that will produce local and regional economic development results expected by the taxpayers. Some of this is attributable to believing only the Universities, State officials and big business have the answers. Yet I see we are discussing how to create and build out entrepreneurial commercialization for University innovation. Query: Where are the entrepreneurs in this dialog? Perhaps you can do a program on these issues, as University research alone will not create any jobs or economic development except for professors, student workers and administrators.
Milken and others have extensive data and research on this topic, “Milken Barriers to entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets.pdf” as example. You will also find the data in the following url quite easy to comprehend, useful and interesting: http://www.biopharmaimpact.com/. And yes, Milken has an economic multiplier factor for each professor hired, but if the innovations are not coupled locally, that number is not valid.
I’ve participated as commercial partner and Co-PI in several University grants, including authoring the original brief and lobbying for the GITI legislation with the Foster Administration. I have been in many seminars to help the Universities with these problems. Most of these meetings are just part of a “Check Box” for some awarded funds like Katrina. We listen to a panel of professors talk about their research, then a panel of local big industry execs talk about their companies. Many times I have stood to ask why we are not discussing tech transfer, entrepreneurship, how we access State resources and other problems connected with creating and promoting a commercialization plan like Stanford or Berkeley did. Each time, the audience and frequently the panelists applaud my comments, but an administrator shuts this line of dialog down. That tells me much of these efforts are just window dressing as part of some funded grant requirements.
The best quote I heard in these meetings that sums up the situation: “When will the State Universities get over this silo mentality? Either we have a bunch of big fish swimming in a bunch of little ponds, or we can have a school of fish swimming together in a big ocean.”
I saw one LSU student on an LPB program (I believe it was Public Square, in fact) clearly express this a few years back. I paraphrase: “The Universities get money [like Katrina NSF funds], form a committee, hire consultants, get the report and on the shelf it goes with no action or change”. An undergrad STUDENT said this. He doesn’t realize the bulk of those earmarked funds are then diverted to what administrators want to do to maintain status quo.
I have high hopes for King Alexander to lead the way for State Universities cleaning up the status quo to put LSU; and by example, other State Universities on a war footing to solve these problems. I met with him in his first week at a business breakfast where he spoke. Excellent grasp of issues and knowledge of his job and the University statistics, which to me are indicative of an agenda that I hope he will be allowed to pursue with full State support.
There are ways to qualify, quantify and fix these problems…. but many of those solutions will not come from the Universities or the State, or from pointing out the innovative nature of the LA Universities. Any decent University is innovative by definition, but academics don’t want to be and are not prepared to be entrepreneurs. Taxpayers want to see jobs for the community resulting from contributions by the Universities as part of a cooperative ecosystem. Academic research data shows State and Federal funding are on a long-term decline. One solution proposed by the experts (and me, repeatedly) is to enable entrepreneurial communities and SBIR for preliminary data and/or proof of concept to better prepare proposals for R1 and R01 grants. There are more, but for those, you will have to ask an entrepreneur.