University-industry research collaborations have been key to a continued
high degree of technological innovation in medicine. Recently, however, critical
questions have been posed about the potential negative aspects of highly productive
means of encouraging innovation. Concerns center on blurring roles between
academic research and the commercial world and the implications of universities'
newfound readiness to benefit financially from their intellectual property.
The roles of both parties are often inadequately captured by considering members
of university faculties as single-mindedly devoted to the advancement of fundamental
knowledge and industrial firms as mere developers of university research.
Rather, medical innovation depends on extensive interactions between universities
and industry, with knowledge and technology transfer flowing in both directions.
These interactions have had important public health and economic benefits.
Yet, there is a risk to the university-industry relationship if the cultural
and ethical principles of one partner overwhelm those of the other. Therefore,
universities and industry need to maximize the upsides of collaboration and
minimize the downsides by means of internal organizational change as well
as formation of new models of collaboration, such as intellectual partnerships
or virtual research organizations. This article reviews the numerous institutional
patterns of innovation and draws implications for organizational and public
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