Cambridge questions 1

August 23, 2002

Much is made in Cambridge about the university as a community of scholars, rather than as an organisation of employers and employed. Some believe this implies that scholars own the intellectual property they generate (Soapbox, THES , August 9).

But membership of a community confers privileges in return for surrender of some autonomy. Cambridge, for example, confers international cachet. There is also the implication that members are engaged in the pursuit of the public good, not of personal gain. If they want money, they should be in private practice.

Not all academics enjoy commercial opportunities; not all are happy that some academics spend time pursuing commercial ends. Cambridge's new intellectual property policies are intended to strike a balance between appropriate reward for inventors and innovators and securing for the community the means for competitive survival. This is the university working for its living. It has nothing to do with bureaucrats.

Christopher Padfield
Director, corporate liaison office
Cambridge University

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