Image: Purdue University
Turning a research result into a marketable technology takes a lot more than slapping a suit jacket over your lab coat. And so to bridge the gap between academia and business, the NSF and Purdue University have launched a new $4-million program, the Innovation Realization Laboratory, which teams up science Ph.D candidates with master's degree management students for two years. "Most science and engineering doctorates go into industry today" without an option to learn the business side of technology, says the program's founder Marie C. Thursby. "The biggest problems in research and development are not technical but rather in integrating business and technical issues."
The doctoral candidates, who are all writing a thesis upon entering the program, take a three-week applied management course before joining the M.B.A.s-to-be in the classroom. Generous stipends or other payments for work--in addition to tuition remission--are offered to all participants as incentive. Most seem happy with the results regardless. Jennifer Talavage, who is finishing her Ph.D. thesis on improving and measuring the quality of video images sent over the Internet (part of her work appears in the photograph), says, "It's a great opportunity to learn how to introduce my research topic to the market. I want to learn the secrets."