Independent research organizations must not focus only on income and percent of products sold, but also on management and training. RTI has earned large returns on its extensive investments in managers in writing business plans, strategic planning, and the development of marketing plans. Every organization should carefully assess their training needs and the potential return on investment associated with well designed training programs.
Over the last few years, the commercial use of the Internet and the World Wide Web has increased dramatically. Home pages, creatively constructed and strategically linked, can serve to inexpensively advertise and market products and services. The Web also can provide a wealth of information on markets and competitors. Of course, a competitor for one program or market could well be a partner for the next. And other new uses are emerging. For example, in early 1998 a university announced over the Internet a service for businesses impacted by reductions in the U.S. Department of Defense's budget. The university's Entrepreneurship Center offered to help these companies identify new business opportunities, diversify existing business bases, and facilitate the transition of products and services from defense customers into civilian government, commercial, and foreign markets.
As an environmental scientist, I must close with a caveat. We are living in an industrial age. Since the industrial revolution, we have been encouraged to be entrepreneurs—to use our planet's resources to provide for our needs. Even today, governmental policies in most countries tend to favor exploitation. Compliance merely means to be as bad as the law allows. Sustainability, however, requires that we also allow for the needs of our progeny. The exploitation and alteration of our planet earth in an in credibly short amount of time is well documented and understood. Over the long haul, the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, we must make the effort to care for our planet and its life forms in order for it to provide for us. The hope, therefore, is that each of us is mindful environmental sustainability in our technology development and commercialization endeavors. Otherwise, economic sustainability cannot occur.