Teamwork + Trust  pg. 4

The whole business of technology transfer from academia to industry should be seen in my view as a duty of academic enterprise because, after all, the wealth of a nation depends in the end on how the brains of the country use that information for making progress. It is important that academics don’t think we should be ashamed of enterprise. On the contrary, we should feel pleased to see this happen, and help to make it happen.

How does this square with the traditional reluctance to mix academic and commercial activities?

The traditional academic view, which has tended to regard commercialism as an undesirable mammon, I don’t think actually represents a well-oiled, advanced nation’s way of working.

There is no doubt at all that Britain in the Victorian Age demonstrated how exploitation of inventions was a key part of the Industrial Revolution. That remains true for the molecular revolution today.

What is more important is the transparency and freedom of access to information—that’s of course absolutely vital, that an academic should be able to share and have access to information, reagents, and so on, so the process of invention and new discovery is not hindered, but rewarded.

It is a two-way street, and if managed properly, a win-win situation. Unfortunately, real life sometimes intrudes on that. Selfishness and greed can sour these things, can’t they? But that shouldn’t by itself be a hindrance to progress.

We’re probably at a unique time in the history of biomedicine. The opportunities are absolutely fantastic, but the threats are there. Progress… requires more than the individual can ever contribute. It requires an ordered society that is aware of its responsibilities.

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