Over the last 30 years, researchers across the country have been documenting the shifts in university policies and practices enabled in no small part by the Bayh-Dole legislation of the mid-1980s, and the establishment and growth of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. These major shifts in national policy created an environment in which universities were free to manage their IP in ways that would support knowledge transfer as well as commercialization of new companies, along with an increased availability of private sector risk capital to support promising start ups. These dynamic changes in the 1980s created incentives for universities to become more entrepreneurial and opportunities for the private sector to engage in new ways with research universities.
At the center of the larger innovation system lies what has become known as the “entrepreneurial university.” It generates technology advances and facilitates the technology diffusion process through intermediaries such as technology transfer offices as well as the creation of incubators or science parks producing support R&D for existing companies or to help jump start new firms. Increasingly the university system has expanded to include activities outside the “ivory tower” with the goal of transforming inventions into innovations for the betterment of society and to enhance the university’s revenues and philanthropic contributions.
Image: Johns Hopkins University, Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence