Unleashing University Innovation

July 27, 2011 By Aminda

While educational institutions are responsible for training future innovators, many experts wonder if the bureaucratic structures and systems often found in public schools are keeping up with the pace of the rapidly changing global workforce and economy. From the classroom to the support staff, there is no lack of ideas on how to bring about transformation, particularly in the university setting. 

Technology in the Classroom

One writer envisions many of today’s educational problems addressed through enhanced use of online courses. From elementary education on up, schools face issues with discipline, dropouts and outdated curriculum that could be mitigated through flexible classes. While universities have embraced online classes, there are still opportunities for more technological integration into the classroom. Web chats, videos and other learning projects can transition students into this global economy, and provide engaging activities.

Successful Staff

Largely ignored in the context of creating an innovative university setting, at least one writer sees the need for university administrators need to create a work environment that attracts, motivates and retains high-performing support staff. He quotes a study showing high staff turnover has been identified as an organizational barrier to improving the current university technology transfer process

The solution is a refocusing on intangible rewards that reward creativity. Unfortunately, managers and administrators who have spent their careers in a traditional university setting can struggle to give up the control that would provide their employees autonomy, growth, and connection to a larger purpose. 

Support for Licensing

A post on Blogging Innovation outlines practical ways universities can learn from and adapt elements of IBM’s licensing to their own patent portfolios. For example, to recognize inventive faculty, universities could award annual cash bonuses per patent issued or add patents into the formula used to calculate faculty annual raises. To save money on potential patent infringement litigation, universities could cross-license patents with other research universities to form large, central patent pools. This is similar to how IBM cross-licenses selected patents with other companies.

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