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U Chicago survey shows that more Americans see universities, not start-ups, as innovation drivers

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: May 9th, 2018

According to a new survey, more Americans believe that research universities, even over start-ups, drive innovation in the United States.

The survey from the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation shows that 71% of Americans cite universities as innovation drivers, while 53% include start-ups, 60% include corporations, and 47% include government.

The survey’s findings came as a surprise to Eric Isaacs, executive vice president of research, innovation and national laboratories at UChicago, who says he wasn’t aware of how many people “perceive the universities as the engines of innovation.”

To entrepreneur Yang Zheng, who launched his start-up Oxalo Therapeutics with support from the Polsky Center, the findings make sense to anyone who has experienced doing business in a research university setting.

“We’re able to get in touch [with] the doctors and physicians in the medical schools and work off their discoveries,” says Zheng, adding that those resources are “very hard to come by” in the “real world.”

Universities do face a major barrier to innovation, one that resonated with a majority of the survey participants: federal funding. Fifty-three percent of respondents said that decreases in government funding have significantly hindered innovation in the U.S.

Source: EdSurge

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