“There’s a cardboard version of where new tech companies come from and how to generate more startups that I’ve heard repeatedly over the years—including several times since coming to London.
It goes something like this: research at universities leads to new discoveries (usually patentable), and commercializing these new university-based discoveries is where most startups come from.
The problem is, only a tiny percentage of tech startups are created this way. It’s not zero—tech transfer offices do a lot of work in this area—but it’s less than 10. Which is to say that more than 90 percent of tech startups aren’t formed through this process or anything resembling it. When you’re looking to grow a startup community, this is not the process to focus on.
Several years ago, Mike Lazaridis gave a talk on the commercialization of research that clearly and correctly identified the role of universities in the process—which also turns out to be the universities’ primary role in startup creation, as well. People have fawned all over Mike in the years since (maybe not so much this year), but for whatever reason, his comments never really caught on. I’ll give it one more shot next time.”
So what is a universities role?
Having never been to university I can’t say for sure but, it seams like a great place to inspire people to think and think different. Getting outside your own head and being exposed to new ways of thinking usually kick starts my process of coming up with new ideas.