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Aligning Interests between Academia and Commerce

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Peter Schuerman

on 12 April 2016

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Transcript of Aligning Interests between Academia and Commerce

Aligning Interests between Academia and Commerce
Why university researchers and businesspeople do not always see eye-to-eye
Understanding the two different cultural frameworks that define Academia and Commerce
Using this understanding to create great working relationships
What is behind these attitudes of indifference and hostility towards commercialization?
Commercialization is now recognized as an important activity for universities
1. Make $
2. Do Good
Knowledge Workers are not motivated by extrinsic drivers (carrot/stick)
"What are the incentives for researchers to participate in commercialization?"
"Sounds complicated. Thanks anyway."
"Commercialization is corrupting the university."
"Yes! I'm in!"
"I am worried that this will be a distraction."
Knowledge Workers are motivated by intrinsic drives

Researcher attitudes make sense when we understand how they are motivated
Here’s the idea:

1. Researchers are motivated by intrinsic drives
2. How they prioritize these drives is shaped by how they need to operate in order to succeed in academia
3. Success in academia is fundamentally different than success in the business world
4. Thus, researchers have priorities that are fundamentally different than those of people in business
5. When people have very different priorities, they don’t work well together
6. Once we see the misalignment of priorities, we can manage them into alignment
Researchers are people who are paid to think
(Knowledge Workers)
Recognition among peers
Recognition in Marketplace
Funding for Research
Revenue from Sales
My Legacy
The University Game
The Business Game
Creating Value Through Products
This explains the indifference and hostility towards commercialization
"You are changing the rules!"
For researchers who are hesitant:
This is not about choosing between two ways to operate, it is about having another choice in how we can succeed
It is about learning how to also be successful in the business world
Ideally, we will be excellent at both
For researchers who want to get involved:
Playing the business game according to the rules of the university game will lead to failure
For example, patents are not a way of recognizing excellence
Technology is not the foundation of technology business
Neither system is better, they are just designed to do two different things
What we have here is failure to communicate
Critically important to align incentives
Realize that companies don't want to fund your lab
They are looking for a return on investment
Talk about products, not research
When they see a project as a good investment they will support your work
A project may be interesting to universities partners for different reasons than it is interesting to you
Meet frequently to give feedback
Connect payments to research milestones
Maximize engagement by providing some free rein
There should be something in it for the university researchers besides money

Recognize that your academic partners have their attention split between two games
An equity stake does not guarantee commitment
Equity should vest with performance
Universities and Government Funding Agencies:
Recognize, support and reward researchers who prioritize commercialization
Provide business coaching to researchers
Make commercialization a consideration towards tenure
Create funds for investment in applied research, and invest in research projects for return
Simplify the process of creating start-ups and for applying for business development grants
Create incentives for private-public partnerships
Recognition in Marketplace
"I didn't become a researcher to get rich."

"I want to do good, but I can't think about commercialization today."
Applications of this model
Peter Schuerman, Ph.D. peterschuerman@gmail.com
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