During a freewheeling brainstorming session about how to get more of the research out of hospitals and universities, and into the hands of companies to make them into products, the senior vice provost for research from Drexel University, Deborah Crawford, put out a passionate idea: that a research university has a duty to its country to support aggressive technology transfer.
Here’s her full statement, which came near the end of the “Whiteboarding Tech Transfer” panel at MedCity CONVERGE:
From my perspective, the issue is not the skill set in tech transfer offices. I think those are very appropriate.
I personally believe — so I’m not really speaking for Drexel University here — I personally believe that research universities have lost sight to some extent of their role in our nation. The fact that tech commercialization offices are created as cost centers in order, in some people’s minds, to be self-sustaining is in fact the wrong model to use in the research university.
I oversee Drexel’s research enterprise. I believe that tech commercialization is part of the overall cost of doing research for the nation. Right? We receive federal funds to do research on the nation’s behalf. And running a tech commercialization office is part of that responsibility set.
Right now, is that a commonly held belief? No it isn’t. But there is a lot of conversation in the nation just now about the role of research universities. Because just like the biotech sector is kind of struggling to redefine itself at the moment because of the economic circumstances that are coming to bear on healthcare, so research universities are struggling with redefining their roles given the runaway costs of higher education, the fact that we don’t have a full understanding of the complexity of our organization and ways to prioritize our internal investments in our universities to meet our missions.
Right? I think part of the difficulties we all experience in tech commercialization is in part a consequence of this struggling to redefine our roles and be clear about our roles, and the respective roles of our partners in this.
In a panel discussion designed to come up with out-of-the-box ideas to foster more healthcare innovation, the concept was certainly well received. When Crawford was done, one of the audience members started blowing kisses from the audience.
Reserve your seat now for MedCity CONVERGE, to be held July 9-10 in Philadelphia. Discover strategies, solutions and startups in healthcare innovation. Be a part of this gathering where the entire healthcare ecosystem converges.