why is this important
The high research intensity of world-class Universities are well-known to seed innovation hubs. The most prominent example is the seeding of Silicon Valley in the Stanford Research Park. This is partly due to the outcomes of university research excellence, but the main proponent is arguably the steady supply of ambitious and inquisitive minds in the form of freshly minted graduates (or dropouts).
Times have changed since the 1940s. While the Stanford ecosystem thrived on large companies, e.g., Lockheed, GE, and Xerox, the movers and shakers in today’s world are agile startups that disrupt slower behemoths. Thus, we must explore models of university research that nurture such entities.
How Does it Work
The idea is to build an ecosystem where innovative companies bring challenges or projects to an R&D shop at the University. The shop breaks down the project into carefully curated 2-4 week “gigs”. Students immerse themselves in the “gigs”, thus participating in an innovation project that is relevant to the 21st century economy.