In MIT Address, TIAX President Calls for More Cooperation Between Industry and Universities to Boost U.S. Economic Growth

Dr. Kenan E. Sahin identifies the need to bridge the increasing gap between industry and academia; says world will miss life-saving innovations if problem is not rectified.

Dr. Kenan E. Sahin, President of TIAX, recently called for greater cooperation and interaction between U.S. industry and universities in order to trigger the next wave of economic growth and improve the lives of people worldwide.

Dr. Sahin delivered his remarks at the inaugural meeting of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Open Source Building Alliance (OSBA), which is developing and testing strategies for new technologies, materials and processes in the building industries.

“It is very likely that cures for many diseases, including cancer, as well as products that will transform our lives and radically improve our environment, have already been discovered in our nation’s universities,” said Dr. Sahin. “However, even as the number of innovations in universities continues to grow, partly due to the boost in funding in the ’90s, the number of new products that industry is introducing to the market has remained constant and even decreased, partly due to the current economy. The result is a huge backlog of innovations waiting to be commercialized. If industries and universities work together more effectively we can turn this backlog into the next wave of economic growth and, more importantly, make a difference in the quality of life worldwide.”

Dr. Sahin continued: “Unfortunately, where universities stop is not where most of industry starts. If we view sources of innovations as Stage I entities and the manufacturers and distributors as Stage III, we see there is a need for Stage II entities that can act as the interface-or bridge-between the two.”

Prior to assuming the presidency of TIAX earlier this year, Dr. Sahin had a prolific career as academic, technologist and entrepreneur, serving on the faculties of MIT, Harvard and University of Massachusetts and as president of Kenan Systems, a telecommunications software company that he founded and that was acquired by Lucent in 1999. He currently serves on numerous boards, including MIT and the Museum of Science.

“There is a critical need for increased collaboration between industry and academia. There are significant new innovations which simply aren’t reaching American consumers because of the disconnect that exists between universities and corporate America,” said Kent Larson, Director of Changing Places – a joint MIT Department of Architecture + Media Lab Research Consortium. “Research and development firms are really the key in solving this problem. They have the ability to play the role of intermediary — mining the universities for ideas and innovations and then developing those ideas to a level where they are ready for the marketplace.”