"Only Connect": Academic-Business Research Collaborations and the Formation of Ecologies of Innovation
Public and private policy for the European Research Area has an important role to play in fostering and maintaining the richness and diversity of this region’s “innovation ecology”, especially with respect to the formation and reconfiguration of information connections. But some of the main institutional innovations promoted with a view to enhancing the exploitation of university research do not seem to be the most beneficial ways of ensuring that knowledge is translated into greater economic wealth. It is not sensible for policy-makers to try to overcome the barriers to connecting publicly funded research conducted in the universities with commercially-oriented R&D and innovation. Adding to the existing pressures on academia to take on new and different missions, for which their historical evolution and specialized characteristics have not equipped them, runs the risk of damaging their ability to fulfill critical functions that no other organizations are prepared to perform with comparable effectiveness. Vigorous pursuit of that strategy would jeopardize exploratory research—a function that must be fulfilled by some institution if long-run productivity growth is to be sustained.
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