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Universities Inc.

Published by The Economist on Fri, 23 Sep 2016


Hooray! We're entrepreneursIN A research park in Culham, a sleepy village south of Oxford, a driverless car pootles around a short track. The ride is steady, the experience unspectacular. But the software directing the car could one day challenge that produced by Google and Uber, suggest the founders of Oxbotica, a 'spin-off' company set up by academics at Oxford University's robotics institute. They hope the technology will be used to run autonomous vehicles in warehouses, mines and, perhaps, on British roads. A version of it guided small transportation pods around pedestrianised parts of Greenwich and Milton Keynes this summer.It is the sort of ambition Whitehall policymakers applaud. Until quite recently, British universities lagged behind their foreign counterparts when it came to turning journal articles into cash. The process was always the same, says Adrian Day of the Higher Education Funding Council for England. An academic at a British university would publish something, it would lie unread on a dusty shelf, then someone else would use it 'to make a widget', thus scooping up the profits.No...Continue reading
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