A Radical Idea for Pure Science: The Scientist-Entrepreneur
As much as we celebrate new technology and treat successful entrepreneurs like rock stars, there is still a tension at many universities between the mission of fundamental research and the quest to commercialize new breakthroughs.
These competing goals have tied universities in knots for decades. Will “pure” science—knowledge for the sake of knowledge—be cheapened by commercial priorities? How can professors even teach properly if they are preoccupied with starting companies and getting rich?
And even if universities want to encourage entrepreneurs, are they up to the job? Many elite business schools have traditionally focused more on developing managerial skills than on the entrepreneurial challenge of building something new from the ground up.
Fortunately, the conventional wisdom is breaking down fast. A new model, which I call “guided academic entrepreneurship,” can actually reinforce traditional university values of basic research, higher education, and the public dissemination of knowledge.