William J. Holstein

William J. Holstein's blog

A Revealing Account of How The U.S. Often Doesn't Commercialize Its Own Technology

One of the drums that I keep beating is that we Americans need to do a better job of commercializing the ideas that come out of what I call our "idea factories"--our universities, research institutes, and weapons labs. We blew it with the transistor, for example, and the Japanese took the idea and created the transistor radio industry. Remember the transistor radio? Now here is another example where we had some fundamental breakthroughs in technology but the economic model, i.e. the old RCA, collapsed, causing the technology to flow elsewhere.

Have We Reached The "Promised Land?"

Give me a break. Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group, was quoted as saying this after the latest job numbers were reported: "I think we've finally reached the promised land of a self-sustaining, self-reinforcing economic recovery."

It sure doesn't feel like the promised land to millions of Americans who can't find well-paying jobs. Economists keep trying to peddle these grand pronouncements about a return to healthy economic conditions. I wonder what's in the water they are drinking.

My thanks to UCLA

It was terribly civil of UCLA to come out and answer the questions that I raised in a blog last week. According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, it looks to me like it is a sound management structure and philosophy. I have great hopes that this model spreads throughout the United States. I've long argued that universities need to do a better job of nurturing the entire ecosystem of innovation and commercialization, not just allow an idea to be licensed:

The New York Times Muffs "Globalization"

I know everyone is suffering brain fatigue talking about big concepts like globalization, but I was struck by how Eduardo Porter of the Times just didn't get it right in a commentary this week. So I have poured it in below and annotated it IN ALL CAPS....

 

Globalization Is in Retreat? Not So Fast

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The University of California Gets Into The VC Business

This is very interesting but also potentially problematic. It's interesting and positive because the funding that allows ideas to be spun out of research labs at universities is in perilously short supply. The absence of seed stage capital is holding back a lot of great ideas. The potential problems are in how the university manages this $250 million fund. The article says the fund will be managed by an independent team of experienced investors. That formula sounds right. But the temptation for the university to influence the management team to support certain professors will be great.

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