Following the presentation the audience was invited to participate and ask questions of Mr. Etzkowitz. One question raised dealt with the potential mismatch of incentives; while universities strive for knowledge-creation, businesses tend to have a more monetary aim. Indeed, Mr. Etzkowitz agreed that this is a problem. He suggested that universities must become better at incorporating practical learning to supplement the theory they teach.
One concern voiced was that students run the risk of becoming too actively engaged and thereby lose their critical skills if encouraged to partake in business. If we engage and interact with something can we remain critical thereof? According to Henry Etzkowitz, the two are not really related; some people become more critical through direct affiliation with something as they develop a better knowledge and understanding of the subject while others can remain uncritical regardless of their interactions.
Building on this, Mr. Etzkowitz was asked whether his Triple Helix concept runs the risk of creating universities which cater to business interests rather than building on and creating knowledge, and whether this could potentially lead to a product-oriented society as opposed to a knowledge-based society. To this, Mr. Etzkowitz explained that we see an increasingly knowledge-based industry emerging from the universities; they are different from the traditional, hierarchical firms, allowing the employees more personal freedom as is the case with Google. He finished off by stressing that the university which wished to remain successful will always focus on a long-term strategy.
All in all, it was a very engaging presentation with challenging questions asked by members of the audience. We are very happy to have had Mr. Etzkowitz be a part of this year’s conference and we think it set just the right tone for events to come!