A Triple Helix of University–Industry–Government
Edited by Riccardo Viale and Henry Etzkowitz
Chapter 7: A Company of their Own: Entrepreneurial Scientists and the Capitalization of Knowledge
Henry Etzkowitz INTRODUCTION: THE ACADEMIC WORLD HAS TURNED The capitalization of knowledge is an emerging mode of production (Etzkowitz, 1983). Until the past few decades, a sceptical view of firm formation was the taken-for-granted perspective of most faculty members and administrators at research universities. Since 1980, an increasing number of academic scientists have broadened their professional interests, from a single-minded interest in contributing to the literature, to making their research the basis of a firm. Formerly largely confined to a specialized academic sector, firm formation has spread to a broad range of universities: public and private; elite and non-elite. In addition, a complex web of relationships has grown up among university-originated startups in emerging industries and older and larger firms in traditional industries. Often the same academic scientists are involved with both types of firms, managing a diversified portfolio of industrial interactions (Powell et al., 2007). An entrepreneurial science model, combining basic research and teaching with technological innovation, is displacing the ‘ivory tower’ of knowledge for its own sake. In the mid-1980s, a faculty member at Stanford University reviewed his colleagues’ activities: ‘In psychiatry there are a lot of people interested in the chemistry of the nervous system and two of them have gone off to form their own company.’ Another Stanford professor, during the same period, estimated that In electrical engineering about every third student starts his own company. In our department [computer science] it’s starting as well. That’s a change in student behaviour and faculty acceptance because the...
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