The Future of Third Level Education in Ireland – 5. Innovation

Excellent post by Greg Foley on the growth of administrators in university commercialisation
“But the problem with this spend on administration is that vital resources are being sucked out of what is essentially an education budget and diverted into what is essentially a job/product creation budget. Perhaps this will turn out to be a good investment for the university and, ultimately for the state. Perhaps financial rewards will be reaped in terms of the overheads from large international research grants or income from licensing etc., benefiting the education mission in the process. But this is an annual cost that comes with no guarantees and leaves in its wake academic departments whose slice of the budget is diminished every time another piece of research and innovation infrastructure is put in place.”


This is the last post in this series before I take a mini-break!

Universities are now expected to be hubs of industrial/business innovation. And, this recent contribution has shown that universities do indeed produce start-ups and patents but whether they do so in a cost-effective manner is not obvious. A useful benchmark to keep in mind is that a single PhD project in the sciences and engineering will typically cost considerably in excess of €100K. If this is state-funded research, as it mainly is, it may well turn out that the cost per job created by university start-ups is unsustainably high. But that’s a discussion for those more qualified in these things than me.

What I want to focus on is the other costs associated with university-led innovation. When a university establishes an innovation or enterprise ethos, or even a very ‘planned’ approach to research, it inevitably incurs extra costs…

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