In the following article in the NY Times, the rapid development of knowledge ecologies can be seen happening between industry and academia. Large corporate labs are on the way out. University research is being brought closer to industry through new relationships- that are looking much more like the ecologies that we have been talking about.
In the bygone days of innovation, large corporations — like RCA, Xerox and the old AT&T — maintained internal laboratories like Bell Labs. These corporate labs were essentially research universities embedded in private companies, and their employees published academic papers, spoke at conferences and even gave away valuable breakthroughs. Bell Labs, for instance, created the world’s first transistor after World War II — and never earned a dollar from the innovation.Almost no corporate labs based on the Bell or Xerox model remain, victims of cost-cutting and a new appreciation by corporate leaders that commercial innovations may flow best when scientists and engineers stick to business problems.
The one item that I believe the New York Times misses in this article, however, is the role of how smaller organizations and even individuals will fill out the ecology, bringing many of the technologies to market much faster than large industry can. NY Times writer Pascal Zackary hints at this when he says: “Will these partnerships produce products you won’t get from two people in a garage?” Mr. Birgeneau asks. “We don’t know that yet. It is an important question.” Yet, it will take not just industry and academia… but also startups and skunkworks to bring these technologies to market in an efficient, time-realistic manner.
This article is further evidence of the shift from a Knowledge Economy to a Knowledge Ecology.