and by rewarding nonresearch scholarship such as teaching and communicating science to a general audience (Kennedy, 1991; Harvard University Faculty of Medicine, 1988).
The importance of contributing to economic development as a national research goal during the last decade has led to an emphasis on prompt transfer of fundamental research findings into commercial use. U.S. universities have often produced discoveries with practical significance, an achievement that has attracted the interest of both U.S. and foreign firms. In many areas of technological significance—microelectronics, biotechnology, materials science, instrumentation, and catalysis, for example—the interval between laboratory discovery and practical application has decreased. Rapid commercialization has provided increased incentives for joint industry-university research programs. Public desires to strengthen the competitive performance of U.S. industry have fostered academic research programs aimed at improving U.S. manufacturing.
A number of federal and state programs now encourage or require cooperation between universities, industry, and national laboratories. University-industry partnerships are implemented by a variety of mechanisms, including long-term agreements with one or more university research groups to pursue a subject of mutual interest, participation in research consortia, research contracts with specific program objectives, and informal collaborations. Consortia efforts, in which several companies combine with research groups at one or more universities to pursue a common research program, are another mechanism. Federal technology transfer programs, such as those in the Department of Defense and several Department of Energy programs at national laboratories, are other examples.
University–industry partnerships stimulate new ideas and innovation by both communities and motivate research teams to achieve important innovations of commercial value. But commercial relationships may introduce conflicts for academic investigators and the university. Some conflicts result from tension between the traditions of openness in the university, where prompt publication and free access to research results is required, and desires to restrict access to research results of proprietary value. Other conflicts can arise because personal profit and commercial interests can become explicit goals of individuals and institutions.
Despite efforts to minimize conflicts, there is growing concern in the scientific research community about the consequences of academ-