Subject: universities struggling to avoid making money
From: Tom Lord <>
Date: Sat, 24 Aug 2002 10:32:27 -0700 (PDT)

Universities struggle to avoid making money because they consistently
succeed at producing quality software, yet generally want to publicly
license their creations.   The money managers wind up forced to insist
that universities take out patents, restrict licenses, etc.

FSBs struggle to find models that support software creation on modest
revenues based on publicly licensed code.

So -- is there a marriage possible there?  Or at least a borrowing of

I don't think it's as simple as making FSBs the business arm of the
university system.  Generally speaking, any excess revenue an
engineering dept generates winds up, one way or another, in support of
the liberal arts (etc :-) -- so a business superstructure over that
would perpetually risk just being a leech.

What's the essense of a university, from a purely business


------- Start of forwarded message -------
Date: Sat, 24 Aug 2002 10:24:33 -0700 (PDT)
From: Tom Lord <>
To: andru@CS.Cornell.EDU
In-reply-to: <> (message from
	Andrew Myers on Sat, 24 Aug 2002 12:31:06 -0400 (EDT))
Subject: Re: the r&d problem

	> Generally speaking it takes a lot of convincing to get people to give
	> you money to investigate high-risk projects.

Long term != high risk.  NSF has a good model here, I think.

	> They have to be convinced that your solution has a good chance of
	> delivering high payoff

Generally, I have encountered people who offer platitudes rather than 
engagement in discussion about the nature of software.

	> [raising money ... sometimes annoying]

This points, perhaps, towards a solution.

Industry (especially the FSBs) can do a few things:

	1) staff/resource(v.t.) long term R&D councils to oversee the
           whole process, regardless of what path it takes

	2) start building up an R&D grant trust

	3) jump through all the hoops to be likely candidates for NSF grants

	4) maybe initially aim for matching grants and then, in the
           long term, independent grant adjudication panels

NSF does neat things like the way they handle long term planning and
renewals.  It seems like it pretty much works.

- -t
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