When American universities receive public or private funding for their research and development (R&D) projects, that money does not always remain strictly on campus. According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), the amount of grant money passed on to outside organizations more than doubled the funding reserved for academic R&D expenditures during the fiscal years 2000 and 2009.
In 2000, American universities provided approximately $700 million to other schools and more than $480 million to separate external entities. But by 2009, those numbers rose to $1.9 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively.
According to NSF analysts, advanced communications technologies and the prevalence of new federal research initiatives likely contributed to this trend. But other notable factors cited by university decision-makers were opportunities for the division of labor, reduction of risk and the ability to work with industry leaders with superior credibility in the research area.
While robust financing certainly greases the wheels of such R&D partnerships, the Guardian recently suggested that cultural changes have been just as important in uniting the higher education and industrial sectors. From the amicable negotiation of patent licensing agreements through technology transfer offices to the sponsorship of workshops and contests meant to engage student researchers, funding must still be funneled through the proper channels to generate the desired end product of innovation.