“We need to be able to adopt policies that reflect our culture,” said Chris Fender, director of technology management and industry relations at the Columbia campus.
The financial stakes in campus-born inventions are substantial enough that faculty members and universities periodically wind up in lawsuits over them. But Missouri and some other universities are hoping that giving students more rights, along with other incentives to invent, will make the institution more attractive to young entrepreneurs.
Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh sponsors a project that offers off-campus incubator space, faculty guidance, and institutional support to student entrepreneurs who have created dozens of new businesses in recent years. The program recently earning the Pittsburgh school a $100,000 award from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City.
Yale University is also trying to promote student entrepreneurship. “We had a great many students trying to create their own inventions, but we really hadn’t paid them much attention,” said Jim Boyle, director of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. “It’s not just the faculty, and the things they create in the labs.”
Since its start in early 2007, the Yale University student club has helped launch more than 40 businesses, raised $25 million for start-up costs, and led to the creation of 90 full-time jobs in New Haven, New York, and Boston, Boyle said.
“We’re learning as much from the students as they’re learning from us,” Boyle said.
But Carnegie-Mellon program coordinator Babs Carryer said an earlier mindset still lives on in academia, in which students are considered anonymous grunts at the service of faculty researchers.