We hold a number of academic research seminars about specific aspects of higher education and professional learning during term time.

All are welcome – there is no need to register.

The role of university researchers in 50 top inventions, 1955-2005

16 May 2017 11:00 - 12:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Steven Brint, Distinguished Professor of Sociology & Public Policy, University of California, Riverside

Convener: Dr Hubert Ertl, Higher Education Research Group

The paper investigates the role of university researchers in the development of 50 top inventions following the Atomic Age.  The list of top inventions comes from the vote of an expert panel convened by an American magazine and includes such familiar inventions as the World Wide Web, genetic engineering, and industrial robots. I compare the centrality of academic researchers in these inventions to that of corporate, government, and non-profit researchers.  I also examine the role of government grants, corporate funding, and philanthropic funding in these inventions.  I find that university-based researchers were the central figures or very important figures in 40 percent of the inventions studied.  Academic researchers were not highly concentrated at the top 50 world universities, but rather were spread over a wide range of universities.  Nor were their contributions limited to early stage (or downstream) research, but instead were distributed throughout the early and refining stages of research, as well as in development activities.  The paper draws out implications of the findings for current policies encouraging academic entrepreneurship as a central mission of research universities and compares the dominant organizational system of academic professionalism to the emerging system of “academic innovationism”.