Center for Studies in Higher Education
SCIENCE AND THE ENTREPRENEURIAL UNIVERSITY
- Author(s): Richard C. Atkinson and Patricia A. Pelfrey
- et al.
The current and still-evolving role of the American research university has been shaped by four key developments in the past sixty-five years: the historic decision to establish a comprehensive postwar federal science policy, described in Vannevar Bush’s 1945 report, Science, The Endless Frontier; the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980; economic analyses from the 1950s onward that have validated the central role of knowledge in economic growth and influenced government and university policy on industry-university research; and various experiments with such research that have led to an increasing integration of research universities and industrial partners in the pursuit of innovation. Can American research universities continue to meet intensifying demands for innovation that advances regional, state, and national economic growth? This paper answers the question with a conditional yes. It describes the trend toward closer relations between universities and industry and how this trend is encouraging new ways of conducting scientific research and new forms of organization within the research university. It concludes with several recommendations for preserving the competitive advantage research universities contribute to American economic leadership: correcting our underinvestment in research in certain disciplines, such as the physical and social sciences; ensuring that federal support for research is sufficient to train graduate students in the numbers needed for national economic competitiveness and to encourage young faculty to pursue research projects with potential for innovative breakthroughs; and to make it easier for foreign-born students to remain in this country once they have earned advanced degrees in American universities.