Measure of success

September 6, 2002

The third mission of a university is not to make money ("Spin-off funding spells danger", THES , August 30) but rather to impart new knowledge to business and the community - having first generated that knowledge and, second, passed it on to students.

Technology transfer is part of this mission, and it benefits the UK as a whole. It assists organisations whether their role is creating wealth or improving society. These activities can be counted and evaluated by the companies they serve. They also rely on and stimulate research in what Gibbons et al call "Mode 2" knowledge creation in the context of application, leading to applicable, often interdisciplinary research outputs.

Counting spin-offs is not a suitable way of measuring third-mission effects. Measures based on spin-offs or on money generated by universities miss the point.

Steve Childe
Plymouth University

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