The Search for Money
Eggheads and Entrepreneurs - Its wizards keep the
emphasis on how to market the bounty of knowledge," crows a Business
Week title. "The Heart of Silicon Valley: Why Stanford - the
nexus of capital, high technology, and brainpower - is the
intellectual incubator of the digital age," echoes Fortune.
Wouldn't you expect a natural synergy between such a school and
Staccatos team: Tim Stilson, Clark Bohmont, Joe Koepnick,
Pat Scandalis and Scott Van Duyne (left to right)
Well, yes - and no. Scratch a little deeper and you find that
Stanford has long been shunned by corporations that complain it is
generally too bureaucratic, rigid and greedy in negotiations. Stanford's
matchmakers find that they often must fight an institutional resistance
to relationships that they say should be natural.
"We're like your typical big company," says Ku. "There are certain rules
and regulations that the university wants to follow. So when an unusual
situation comes up, that's where all the bottleneck happens. It often
happens with industry because they want something that's not in the
mainstream. Then we're not sure who makes the decision, how to handle
it, what are the ramifications."
While this appears benign, the results can cause damage, and not just in
the area of product patents. Companies would love to work with Stanford
talent in developing new medical products and technology based on joint
research. Yet, in 1995 a faculty committee issued a scathing report on
the barriers between the medical school and industry - a situation
marked most by "a growing mutual distrust" and "perceived differences in
motives and mission that may not be based in fact."