How to Grease the Academic-Industry Skids

How to Grease the Academic-Industry Skids

Research finds that the U.S. innovation ecosystem has splintered since the 1970s, with corporate and academic science pulling apart and making application of basic scientific discoveries more difficult. The analysis also shows that Venture Capital (VC)-backed scientific entrepreneurship has helped to bridge this gap between corporate science and academia — but only in a couple of sectors. These findings suggest that if we want to see greater productivity growth, we need to explore alternative ways to translate science into invention.

There is no relationship between R/D spending and outcomes. Instead, when it comes to transferring from bench to bedside to boardroom, we need to rethink many parts of the value chain, including:

1. Rethinking bioscience graduate school education and MD/PhD programs.

2. Creating entrepreneurial medical schools and rethinking MD/MBA programs.

3. The role of AMC philantropreneurship.

4. Removing the obstacles to academic-industry collaboration and restoring trust.

5. Involving physicians earlier in the product development phase.

6. Creating new ways to fund and develop seed stage discoveries.

7. Changing the publish or perish culture.

8. Converging digital health with biopharma and techmed.

9. Appointing leaders who know how to lead innovators.

10. Teaching biomedical and clinical innovation and entrepreneurship to medical students, residents and fellows.

11. Reforming promotion and tenure criteria.

12. Creating more robust academic-industry knowledge exchange programs.

Simply put, academia has placed too many anti-entrepreneurial obstacles before faculties interested in getting discoveries to patients by working with industry partners. The industry has made it too hard for faculties to work with them. Regulators, by passing overly restrictive rules, have thrown out the baby with the bathwater. That creates lots of friction and too few deliverables at the bottom of the funnel that taxpayers are subsidizing. Those that do make it through the maze are increasingly unaffordable.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs on Twitter@ArlenMD.

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  • Sarah Ashley

    Too many rules hurt innovation

  • Josh Byers

    We need more healthcare venture capital firms to support healthcare entrepreneurs.

  • Lee Whyte

    Still hoping they will find better cancer cures

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Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA

Former Contributor

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is a professor emeritus of otolaryngology, dentistry, and engineering at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health and President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at He has created several medical device and digital health companies. His primary research centers around biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship and life science technology commercialization. He consults for and speaks to companies, governments, colleges and universities around the world who need his expertise and contacts in the areas of bio entrepreneurship, bioscience, healthcare, healthcare IT, medical tourism -- nationally and internationally, new product development, product design, and financing new ventures. He is a former Harvard-Macy fellow and In 2010, he completed a Fulbright at Kings Business, the commercialization office of technology transfer at Kings College in London. He recently published "Building the Case for Biotechnology." "Optical Detection of Cancer", and " The Life Science Innovation Roadmap". He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology and Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. In addition, He is a faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver Graduate School where he teaches Biomedical Entrepreneurship and is an iCorps participant, trainer and industry mentor. He is the Chief Medical Officer at and and Chairman of the Board at GlobalMindED at, a non-profit at risk student success network. He is honored to be named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives of 2011 and nominated in 2012 and Best Doctors 2013.

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