Looking for money in all the right places.
From the computer center to the medical school,
officials and faculty are searching for funds.
By David Schrieberg
the millennium. For Stanford, the world changed at midnight on Dec. 2, 1997.
At that moment, the university lost its exclusive patent for recombinant
DNA, the 1973 discovery that launched the biotech industry. But this was
more than a mere invention. It was Stanford's 800-pound gorilla, drawing
$200 million-plus in royalties, split with the University of
California-San Franciscohink of it this way: When Stanford's 17-year
patent expired last month, revenues at the nation's second top
royalty-earning school plunged from a record $50 million to about $15
million, the lowest level in nearly a decade. Stanford officials,
peering over the edge, call it "The Cliff." Worse still, the DNA patent
is non-renewable. Replacing it has become a kind of holy mission.
Enter the matchmakers. All over the Farm, from the computer music center
to the medical school, from the engineering departments to the library,
officials and faculty are engaged in an intense search for new money.
While they have set their sights on corporate checkbooks, this is about
more than money. At a time when corporate America is back on top of the
world, Stanford wants to re-invent the traditional marriage of commerce
and research. Even as they pursue commercial suitors who offer a hefty
dowry, officials are deliberately opening up the university to industry
ideas like never before.
Signs of romance are everywhere: At a high-profile press conference,
university officials tout a new consumer product marketed by a Japanese
corporation and based on Stanford discoveries. Stanford representatives
canvass corporate CEOs for project ideas - and the money to entice
faculty into making them happen. A presidential committee establishes a