Area's universities are urged to spur ties with business

April 21, 1994|By Joel Obermayer | Joel Obermayer,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore-area universities need to make it easier for their faculties to get involved in commercial ventures to help spur economic growth, said an expert in academic-private sector partnerships at the Johns Hopkins University yesterday.

Ron Kysiak, director of a research park affiliated with Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., said universities should be porous, like a sponge, to encourage entrepreneurs to squeeze out innovative ideas.

The problem is that faculty are often discouraged from spending their time in entrepreneurial activities by academic culture, he said.

But Mr. Kysiak said universities should not be expected to start technology businesses themselves.

"Asking universities to be a prime source of commercialization is difficult. They are not designed to do it," he said. "Instead they have to be ready to let people come in and pull the technology out."

Mr. Kysiak's comments came as part of a seminar series on economic development held at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Study.

In comments afterward, institute director Lester M. Salamon said the series is an attempt to provide area business people and financiers with a broad perspective about how the public and private sector can work together.

"We do need to increase commercial utilization from our major research universities. That has not been our strong suit," he said.

Mr. Kysiak said that the key to using universities as greenhouses for business ideas is putting structures in place that encourage it.

"The question is whether you have a system that exists between the public and the private sector that pushes commercialization," he said.

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