Αν και υποστηρίζω την εμπορευματοποίηση (commercialization) των ανακαλύψεων στα πανεπιστήμια μέσω ευρεσιτεχνιών, start-up εταιριών, κτλ, δίνω και κάποιο δίκιο στις απόψεις που περιέχονται στην παρακάτω επιστολή στο Chemical and Engineering News της 19 Φεβ.:
Universities Are Not Businesses
The article on the workshop «Enhancing Innovation & Competitiveness through Investments in Federal Research» contained the most delicious irony in the words of Rohm and Haas Chief Technology Officer Gary Calabrese: «U.S. academic institutions are acting too much like for-profit companies» (C&EN, Dec. 18, 2006, page 41). For decades, I have heard complaints that universities are not run enough like businesses and have useless major departments and ivory tower professors. Now, with the Bayh-Dole Act as an incentive to patent research results and with investment funds willy-nilly helping professors start companies, industry must actually compete and pay market prices for what they once took gratis. Horrors! Yet, in a sense that I doubt he intended, Calabrese is absolutely right. It was bad enough when some researchers, to maintain their lead over the competition, would leave key items out of their experiments (or worse, avoid presenting them altogether through communications never followed by a full paper). Now, publication is also delayed until the patent is filed. Sometimes, the patent is the only source of experimental detail, rarely meeting the standards required by major journals. And how many graduate students’ and postdocs’ careers are delayed, or short-circuited entirely, because their adviser-would-be-entrepreneur delays publication further or won’t let them publish some of their findings at all? We see universities refusing to license patents on a nonexclusive basis to small companies that want to sell research quantities of materials because the university can get more money from a big pharmaceutical company through an exclusive license. We even see professors suing their former universities for patent infringement for using their inventions for teaching or research purposes (C&EN, May 26, 2003, page 21).