The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
MAKING IT BETTER: EXPANDING INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH TO MEET SOCIETY'S NEEDS
which appear to allocate most of their resources to component research, academic research has been slow to respond to emerging requirements for interdisciplinary research connected to the large-scale systems and IT applications that are responding to business and societal needs. This is not to say that academia has failed to develop highly innovative programs to educate students and conduct research on interdisciplinary topics but simply that there is substantial room for improvement. Just as industry research can become compartmentalized along product lines and industry sectors, academic research can track individual disciplines too closely. Faculty members tend to be rewarded on the basis of their contributions to a particular field, so setting off in new directions can have adverse consequences.
Universities face difficult problems in conducting research on networks and large-scale systems: primarily they lack access to large operational systems—most of which are owned and operated by private firms—as well as tools for simulating the performance of such systems. This problem has persisted for decades (CSTB, 1994), and its consequences have worsened as interest grows in the social applications discussed in this report. As the framers of federal networking research programs have long known, only large networks populated by real users demonstrate the behaviors that need to be studied and understood. Even if academic researchers gain access to these systems, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to change their operation for experimental purposes, because users and their applications demand stability and availability. This problem was first noted when the research community's use of the Internet grew rapidly in the 1980s; the commercialization of the 1990s only exacerbated the problem (CSTB, 1994).47 The limited ability to simulate such systems is reflected in the poor understanding of their behavior.
Commercialization of University Research
University students, professors, and researchers often start new companies to commercialize the results of their research. Universities also license technology to industry, especially since the passage of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, which allows universities to license technologies emerging from federally funded research programs. The large number of new companies created to sell products based on university research, and the thousands of licenses that universities grant to firms, testify to the dramatic impact of university research on the private sector—and the effectiveness of the nation's innovation system in converting research results into new products and processes.
Across all industries, the number of start-up companies emerging from university research is growing rapidly. A 1998 survey by the Asso-