Why Commerce Must Be Allowed to Drive Innovation

Despite the bad name commercialization receives in academic circles, it is essential to carry laboratory discoveries, like graphene and stem cell therapy, into their next stages of innovation. 

What's the Latest Development?


Two of today's most promising new technologies, graphene and stem cell therapies, were a result of discovery-led research projects at government-funded laboratories. But now, says John Fisher, director of the University of Leeds' Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, we must let commerce carry these discoveries into the next stage of innovation. "Teams of scientists and engineers need to define challenges and be intent on making a commercial success out of this discovery," he said. "The applications will be 'out there' but that's exactly where they will stay without properly directed investment."

What's the Big Idea?

Fisher calls commercially driven innovation 'challenge-led', meaning, in the case of regenerative medicine, "identifying problems in doctors' practices, hospitals and operating theatres, then designing innovative, biocompatible medical devices." He laments the bad name commercialization receives in academic circles and points out that the semiconductor studies completed in the 1960s would not have resulted in today's information revolution were it not for commercial interests further developing the scientists' discoveries. Commerce drives markets but, says Fisher, it can also drive science itself. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

 

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

Videos
  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less
Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Keep reading Show less