Innovative Universities Are Not Entrepreneurial Universities

DECEMBER 07, 2015
Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA
According to Reuters, Stanford, MIT, and Harvard are the most innovative universities. 

Each candidate university was evaluated using various indicators including:

• How often a university’s patent applications were granted

• How many patents were filed with global patent offices and local authorities

• How often the university’s patents were cited by others

Universities were also evaluated in terms of how often their research papers were cited by patents and the percentage of articles that featured a co-author from industry.

Unfortunately, these metrics mean little or nothing and cannot be termed “innovations” unless the discoveries and inventions are translated into something that creates substantial user-defined value. Short of that, it is just a patent beauty contest and judged by who gets the most vanity votes. There are many differences between an idea, an invention, and an innovation and someone who gets a patent (inventor) and someone who creates and harvests value (entrepreneur).

Here are 10 things universities should do to transform themselves
 from patent mills to entrepreneurial universities:

1. Fix their technology transfer offices or outsource the function.

2. Give faculty promotion and tenure recognition for innovative and entrepreneurial accomplishments.

3. Eliminate practice plan taxes and policies that discourage faculty-industry collaboration.

4. Create an internal seed stage fund.

5. Hold every student accountable for demonstrating an entrepreneurial mindset.

6. Hire, develop, and promote for innovation.

7. Lead innovation.

8. Celebrate innovation champions and mentor those who are interested in emulating them.

9. Transform donations into investments.

10. Hire outsiders who think convergently and will global sensing networks.

When it comes to Sick Care, we need to stop tinkering and creating solutions looking for problems. In many ways, patents interfere with innovation or are not relevant in rapidly changing markets, like digital health. How we keep score needs to be valid and consistent. We also need to consider that creating and measuring  meaning trumps measuring money

University innovation beauty pageants are as useless as doctor beauty pageants.Instead, we need to keep our eyes on the prize i.e innovation that results in more user defined value not just embossed plates hanging on the walls.
 
 



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