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How a Dose of Reality Can Make Science More Visionary

How a Dose of Reality Can Make Science More Visionary

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E. A. Fitzgerald, Professor of Materials Engineering, MIT, asks How do we know that university scientists are working on the best possible research projects to begin with? The ones with the greatest chances of bearing the most fruit?
E. A. Fitzgerald, Professor of Materials Engineering, MIT, asks How do we know that university scientists are working on the best possible research projects to begin with? The ones with the greatest chances of bearing the most fruit?

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation on Mar 12, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/25/2012

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Discovery
consists of 
seeing
what everybody has seenand
thinking
what nobodyhas
thought
.
KAUFFMAN Thoughtbook
 
2009
E x c E r p t f r o m
Fourth in an ongoing series, the
Kauffman Thoughtbook 2009 
captures what we arethinking, learning, and discovering about education, entrepreneurship, and advancinginnovation. This collection of more than forty essays is written by the talented KauffmanFoundation associates, partners, and experts who are pursuing the principles and visionset by our founder, Ewing Kauffman.REQUEST YOUR COMPLIMENTARY COPY AT
kauan.g
©2008 by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. All rights reserved.
 
62
How  Dose o Relity C mkeSciece more Visiory
e.a. FITZGeRalD, Ph.D.
mrton C. Fings–Sma Profssor of mtris enginring, mIT
Whe we thik bot how to get ore beet ro scietic reserch t oriversities, we slly ocs o the bck ed o the reserch pipelie: o how toove ew techologies “ot o the lbs” d ito the rketplce.We hve creted etire irstrctre or this prpose, ro techology trser oces to strtpicbtors, vetre ds, d ore. Certily these eorts re sel, bt still theyield is ote lower th expected. Perhps it is tie to sk wht is seldo sked:
How do we know that university scientists are working on the best possibleresearch projects to begin with? The ones with the greatest chances of bearing the most fruit?
I ct, we do ot hve good echiss or seeig tht proisig reserchis prsed while blid lleys re voided. mechiss tht oce existed hvetrophied, s the strctre o reserch i this cotry hs chged. ad thoghwe hve’t regressed to  stge where d scietists re wstig their tie tryigto trste led to gold, or reserch ecosyste eeds better ethods o relitytestig, d relity tteet.
Excerpt ro
Kauffman Thoughtbook 2009
. ©2008 by the Ewig mrio K odtio. all rights reserved.
 
63
The Gret Shituiversity reserch hs grow treedosly sice World Wr II s ederldig or it hs bllooed to  totl o bot $30 billio per yer. This is’terly s ch s the privte sector speds o reserch d developet(R&D) i copies. Bt iversity reserch hs coe to hve gret strtegiciportce, de to the shitig tre o corporte R&D.Here’s why: Big rs oce did  lot o bsic reserch, the kid tht ight ot showreslts or te to tee yers, i ever, bt cold prodce detl dvces. Ithe rst ew postwr decdes, aT&T’s Bell Lbortories developed (og otherthigs) the trsistor, the rst oder solr cell, d the unIX opertig syste.Copies t tht tie cold ord to ivest i bsic reserch. or yers, rs likeIBm, Xerox, d Kodk hd er-oopolies i their idstries.The ce  ore copetitive ecooy, with ew oreig d doestic etrts.Pressre o prots drove rs to shit their ocs to pplied R&D, with shortertie horizos: three to ve yers, or eve two to three. more d ore, bsicreserch igrted to the iversities, where the ederl ds d the lbs weregrowig. Wht did ot srvive the igrtio were the relity-sesig echiss.The no-Relity LoopSice the id-1980s, I hve hd  rot-lie view o this shit, rst s  grdtestdet i iversity reserch, the workig or six yers t Bell Lbs, d sice1994 o the clty t mIT, where I hve kept toch with idstry throghstrtps d relted ctivity. ollowig re soe thigs I hve observed.
- How  Dose o Relity C mke Sciece more Visiory -

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