Public/private – academic/corporate partnerships

Note: The following is from a conversation on Facebook


 Robert Coker – 20 hrs · Edited ·

Sharing from my friend Henning Langberg.. We must change the culture of scientific investigation and provide more value to the public.

The University of Virginia’s provost, Tom Katsouleas, once told me that less than one percent, by his estimates, of basic research is commercialized and that there may…

Kevin Tipton

Kevin Tipton Nothing wrong with working with industry. however, impact of basic research is very difficult to predict. just ask the fella that invented the binary number system in the 1600s.

Like · Reply · 1 · 19 hrs
Robert Coker

Robert Coker I am not talking about “working with industry”. I am advocating the formation of industry alongside the experts in academia. The SBIR program has been around since 1982 but very few academic institutions even understand it. “One near commercialization per 10 million bucks” is appalling. We can do much better for our citizens.

Richard Pressl

Richard Pressl One compound issue that comes up with public/private, or corporate/academic partnerships is who pays, who plays, who reaps, and who gets to hold the bag if things go wrong. Given our litigious, greedy, politically fixated, and capitalistic system the aSee More

Like · Reply · 1 · 12 hrs · Edited
Robert Coker

Robert Coker I think both of you are missing the point. Please read the article. If it were not for Stanford University‘s pro-IP environment, Google would not exist. Mistakes can happen anywhere but bricks in the ivory tower have limited value.

Richard Pressl

Richard Pressl I did read Mr.Wadhwa’s article – and that is what formed the basis for my commentary. I take exception to his suggestion” that universities need to partner with corporations or else business entities will just hire away their talent. Kinda like what happensSee More

Like · Reply · 1 · 12 hrs
Robert Coker

Robert Coker From my perspective, it is high time to share in the development of intellectual property. These “vehicles have been idling for over 3 decades” and only a few universities have been able to deliver taxpayer funded innovation BACK to the taxpayer. Like the climate climate (yes i meant it that way), the funding climate has changed drastically. Adapt or perish. A 20 billion dollar endowment buys A LOT of education.

Richard Pressl

Richard Pressl Brin and Page’s encounter with Stephen Wolfram set the stage for “Backrub” – Stanford’s primary asset supplied to Brin and Page was their mathematics/computer science PhD department/program. By 1996 CERN had already done the heavy lifting for the Internet…anSee More

Robert Coker

Robert Coker Agreed. We must strike a balance.

Richard Pressl

Richard Pressl In general, would private enterprise have any interest in research that would not likely lead to a saleable product? The U.S. Federal Government came up with $7.2 billion to aid in the ebola outbreak, spread across more than eight major departments inclSee More

Richard Pressl

Richard Pressl Ok Robert…last one on this: this issue can be seen dramatically in the charter vs public school considerations. Or allowing Coke-Cola and McDonald’s to become enmeshed in K-12 environments. Or having corporate personnel teach classes at schools and colleges? Anyway, thanks for the opportunity to explore this issue in detail ! Cheers, and best wishes!

Robert Coker

Robert Coker Now Richard Pressl.. you have opened up this topic far beyond my assertion. Again, my point was focused on the need to foster and share the taxpayer funded innovation developed in the academic setting (examples:;; They call that a “start-up”. With the generation of intellectual property, funds can be acquired in the private sector through these start-ups and partnerships without the need for continual government (ie., taxpayer) funding. Pay lines for some NIH grant mechanisms are below 5% and that is not a sustainable, academic environment. The climate in academia is slow to change but the leaders will utilize these strategies to become more independent and affect the situation.

Does therapy work? Ask the OwlOutcomes team at UW start-up Mental Health Data Services…
Richard Pressl
Richard Pressl Many on the political extremes both left and right dislike, even fear the role of government, and prefer solutions offered by private enterprise and the “free market”. But that orientation is becoming less viable when it becomes clear that the latter is relentlessly working to usurp the standing of the former in everyday life. We have seen this in the role of unlimited money in Congressional elections, attempts to privatize Social Security, dismantle the Post Office, prevent responsible taxation, and the systemic handicapping of regulators working in the public interest, even in your area of health and human services. Again, some interaction can be mutually beneficial; but academia, and the wider community, needs to always remember what the “prime directive” is for private enterprise! Government is supposed to be more strategically oriented. In Star Trek parlance, more “United Federation of Planets”, less Ferengi. Cheers ! Uncle Rich.
Richard Pressl

Richard Pressl ps: Guess which agency handles over 50% of SBIR funding? The Department of Defense. About $1.2 bn annually; but only 0.10% of DoD’s budget/spending. Maybe spending less on killing and control and more on R&D, infrastructure, and social development would offset the appeal of “free market” glitter, or the military/industrial/security apparatus.

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