Even MIT Hasn’t Figured out Technology Transfer
A recent article in Forbes references, two studies that support my ongoing opinion that transfer from US universities into both existing businesses and startup ventures is really, really difficult to do, currently ineffective and surely in need of a major overhaul.
A 2009 study found that MIT alumni have started 25,800 still-operating businesses, with a total of 3.3 million employees and $2 trillion a year in revenue. Combined they’d be the eleventh-largest economy on Earth. But, this study did not suggest that MIT graduates were commercializing MIT R&D. MIT alums are starting companies and that is absolutely wonderful. MIT has clearly created an environment which encourages graduates to become entrepreneurs. Cool, huh?
BUT… in the decade between 1996 and 2006, MIT earned a measly 0.3%, or $490 million, from $12.2 billion in funded R&D. Wow…that is abysmal. If MIT’s record of commercializing publically-funded R&D is so poor, doesn’t the tech transfer system really need a major overhaul? We need to continue to search for better ways to transfer technologies out of universities and national laboratories, rather than continue to fund the old, ineffective ways of the past.