Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Focus on partnerships, not money, Forrest says

Vice President for Research Stephen Forrest recently told Washington reporters that the key to innovation is to focus on moving technologies from university labs into the marketplace, not collecting licensing revenues.

In comments at a media roundtable sponsored by The Science Coalition, Forrest said while the actual number of faculty who become entrepreneurs might be small, it is the accomplishments they represent that should be valued.

  Vice President for Research Stephen Forrest speaks at a media roundtable sponsored by The Science Coalition. (Photo by Eugene Salazar)

“One thing you need to communicate is that it’s not about the money, it’s about the partnership,” Forrest said. “If you have good ideas, the money will come. Don’t focus on it.”

Forrest said universities “shouldn’t undervalue” working with industry, since that helps engage many more faculty. He also said that U-M now takes entrepreneurship and technology transfer into consideration as part of faculty tenure decisions.

He told the reporters that the biggest threat to U.S. innovation is not having a full pipeline of scientists and students generating new and innovative concepts. “We need a lot of ideas to get to the ideas that generate big successes” into commercialization, he added.

The Science Coalition represents around 50 research universities and helps advocate for strong federal funding for university-based research. About 10 research VPs from Science Coalition-member universities participated in the roundtable.