‘Patent first, publish later’ for societal impact, says academic

Vice-president says universities must convince researchers that journal articles are not the only way to disseminate knowledge

June 1, 2017
Hong Kong
Source: iStock

Universities should encourage their academics to patent rather than publish their research so that it has the greatest impact on society, according to a university vice-president.

Paul Feigin, vice-president for strategic projects at Technion Israel Institute of Technology, said that, while the “traditional model of disseminating knowledge is by publishing papers”, investors were not interested in innovations that were already in the public domain and that higher education institutions must instead “set up facilities on campus to encourage faculty to commercialise their research”.

He was speaking as part of a panel on the topic of models of strategic leadership and turning ideas into impact at the Times Higher Education Innovation & Impact Summit, held at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

“You will have a certain resistance to overcome,” said Professor Feigin. “How do you convince faculty that if you really want to disseminate the knowledge in a way that will be useful to society then you should patent it? Because if you don’t patent it nobody will invest in it to make it into a product and all the knowledge you have created doesn’t get access to the market.”


Access all the coverage from the Innovation & Impact Summit 2017


He added: “One thinks if you publish it everyone can use it. If you publish it nobody wants to use it because they want to invest in it, so you need to go through a process of convincing your faculty that there is another way to disseminate their knowledge and drive innovation.”

However, Professor Feigin cautioned that, when universities try to measure innovation and work with industry, they have to be “a little bit wary” that they do not “turn the university into an organisation that provides services to industry and that’s our contribution to innovation”.

“We have to allow blue sky research. This aspect of higher education is the innovation of the next 15 to 20 years,” he said.

A separate panel on how universities can innovate to address grand challenges explored the importance of interdisciplinary research.

Anna Mauranen, vice-rector of the University of Helsinki, said many of the world’s greatest challenges are “largely social science problems”.

“Technology challenges are hard to meet without the human aspect,” she said. “A number of international companies like to hire people from the humanities and social sciences because they understand why humans make choices [and] what makes them happy and unhappy.”

However, Peter Mathieson, president of the University of Hong Kong, said that interdisciplinary work “doesn’t just happen on its own” and explained how his institution has “engineered” this approach to research through a “radical reform” of funding.

The Hong Kong government allocates funding to universities based on their undergraduate student programmes, and previously HKU would give this out to the relevant departments, Professor Mathieson said. But the idea of faculties sharing this funding with any other part of the university was considered "heresy”, he added.

Now the university keeps a proportion of that funding centrally and allocates it back to departments, favouring interdisciplinary projects within and across departments and also with other institutions.

“That’s been very successful,” he said. “Researchers and academics are very good at playing the game. If you produce new rules, they adapt very quickly.”

Professor Mathieson also spoke about the need for universities to “involve students” in designing curricula and in decisions around the delivery of teaching, as they have “grown up with digital technologies”.

However, he said that encouraging an “entrepreneurial spirit” in students is difficult, particularly in Asia.

“In this part of the world, telling students that it’s OK to fail is challenging. Our students are not programmed for failure. Our students are programmed for success,” he said.

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com

后记

Print headline: Patent first for societal impact

登录 或者 注册 以便阅读全文。

请先注册再进行下一步

获得一个月的无限制地在线阅读网站内容。只需注册并完成您的职业简介.

注册是免费的,而且非常简单。一旦成功注册,您可以每个月免费阅读3篇文章。:

  • 获得编辑推荐文章
  • 率先获得泰晤士高等教育世界大学排名相关的新闻
  • 获得职位推荐、筛选工作和保存工作搜索结果
  • 参与读者讨论和公布评论
注册

相关文章

欢迎反馈

Log in or register to post comments

评论最多

Recent controversy over the future directions of both Stanford and Melbourne university presses have raised questions about the role of in-house publishing arms in a world of commercialisation, impact agendas, alternative facts – and ever-diminishing monograph sales. Anna McKie reports

3 October