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 Tech transfer in the real world

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PostSubject: Tech transfer in the real world   Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:55 am

Various models for developing Ireland's
tech have been tried over the past decade, at a direct cost of
several billion Euro the taxpayer. Medialab; SFI; this current
project at UCD/TCD. Indirect costs include the morale loss to Arts
and humanities, the downgrading of Ireland's traditional areas of
excellence in theatre and literature, the students “asked” at
the universities to sign 100% control of the IP to the university
before final exams and so abandoning the project, and the
destruction of the informal civil society/state network structure of
Ireland's software industry described so well by O Riain. This
writer has gone public on each occasion about why each of these
initiatives is a waste of taxpayers' money. Most of this comes from
experience at working in silicon Valley, including sitting on boards
of start-ups.

There are two ways by which tech transfer can be operated successfully;
both require a strong corporate enforcement structure. That Ireland does not
have, as exemplified by the recent banking scandals and absence of enforceable
copyright law. Both ways also require a critical mass of experience
in management of technology projects. That Ireland does have, but
those of us who know how to do this have found themselves pushed to
the margins as the state attempts to extend its hegemony in Irish
society, with disastrous results.

The first way is Stanford's way, a la Google. Let's cut to the chase;
offices of technology and licensing at universities lose money because
any student smart enough todevelop a new technology will also be smart
enough to take it off campus as it matures and hire a lawyer to defeat the
university's claims. That is what Brin and Page of Google did, following a
long-established Stanford precedent. Absent a private university –
and DCU would starve to death in a day were it really privatized –
Ireland should follow the UC Berkeley model. Sibeam will provide the
exemplar

It arose from the Berkeley wireless center, and all work done there
enters the public domain. Students are encouraged to work on interesting
projects. One group got interested in modelling CMOS, the dominant chip fabrication
technology. Having upped the speed considerably for wireless data
transfer in a low-cost way, they formed a company with serial
entrepreneur John LeMoncheck and looked for an application. Note the
sequence; optimise the technology first. Indeed, that done, John
successfully persuaded the now wealthy students to finish their
Ph.Ds.

The application they chose was wireless
data transfer, focused on 40+” Tvs. (By contrast, when computer
apps at DCU was a world-class dept, practically all its moral and
financial resources were sucked into a disastrous TV project with no
substantial underlying technology). Let us note that Sibeam proudly
remains a CMOS company. The tech problems solved, the road ahead was
steep. All the leading players in the area - including Intel, Sony,
indeed the rival Qualcomm – were persuaded to accept the new
wireless standard. The result will be an at least a $1 billion
company.

So this UCD/TCD initiative will be yet
another millstone around the neck of the Irish taxpayer, just like
the digital hub, SFI, DCU under its current management, and so on.
The Irish state is willing to risk the future of all its people while
refusing to do the only role appropriate for it in technology;
corporate enforcement. The only ray of hope is that the state will
have run out of money long before these recent projects begin; the
bad news is that the IMF will then be running the show. But is that
what was intended all along?
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PostSubject: Re: Tech transfer in the real world   Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:05 am

That's very interesting erigena. i recognise the syndrome of rigid, costly and inappropriate Government structures driving out more flexible ad hoc processes instead of reforming and improving them.

Is the difference between Stanford and Berkeley that Berkeley doesn't try to keep control of the license and Stanford does (and fails)? Is there any way you think a University can recoup something from successful projects ? I have heard that Ireland follows the "control" model and asks too much for licenses.

What are the problems and costs that you see in the UCD/TCD initiative? What are the particular corporate enforcement issues that effect the technology sector?
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PostSubject: Re: Tech transfer in the real world   Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:22 am

Erigena I agree very interesting. The ethos of most Universities mitigates against productive research and innovation. They now tie up many capable people in an environment that has become self serving.

Cactus

Universities gain if the economy does well and tax take increases. At present however many are of dubious benifit and are an economic millstone.
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PostSubject: Re: Tech transfer in the real world   Thu Mar 12, 2009 6:37 am

Cactus - First of all, congrats on this site - please keep up the good work and civility.

I am a veteran of Irish tech - Ireland should be the world leader in various aspects of s/w. Instead, we have lost a full generation.

You know my name, and can check out my attacks on govt policy (most prominently, the Wall st journal of July, 2001). cutting to the chase; it is best to look at it all as inappropriate state involvement in sthg best left to civil society. Now we know the Irish state can't do tech. So can it do Corporate enforcement? Not if it involves going after De Lads.

It's up to your generation to change this.


cactus flower wrote:
That's very interesting erigena. i recognise the syndrome of rigid, costly and inappropriate Government structures driving out more flexible ad hoc processes instead of reforming and improving them.

Is the difference between Stanford and Berkeley that Berkeley doesn't try to keep control of the license and Stanford does (and fails)? Is there any way you think a University can recoup something from successful projects ? I have heard that Ireland follows the "control" model and asks too much for licenses.

What are the problems and costs that you see in the UCD/TCD initiative? What are the particular corporate enforcement issues that effect the technology sector?
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