Thursday, October 1, 2009

Great Blog Post by Thomas Lee

from Patent Pending:


It's getting kind of ugly...

But now Governor and would-be presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty has waded directly into the fray. During a keynote speech Wednesday to The Collaborative's annual venture capital conference, Pawlenty chided the U for lacking a risk taking, entrepreneurial culture and not working well with outside companies, according to sources.

He also helpfully suggested the U should exclusively license its technology to local companies, even if it means the school has to "take a haircut." Then Pawlenty cracked his usual joke about teachers and tenure- that the only place to find job security without merit is government and the university.

If Pawlenty doesn't think much of the U, then the feeling is quite mutual. U officials say the school is a convenient scapegoat for politicians who can't do simple things like pass an angel investment tax credit.

The back and forth bickering is why we look like chumps compared to Wisconsin. (Check out my recent two-part series on Wisconsin biotech). Minnesota will never improve its situation if the governor and the state's top research university can't get it together.

In the Badger State, the University of Wisconsin has worked hand in hand with governors and legislators of both parties to craft one of the country's best environments for tech transfer and biotech start-ups.

"I don't think we're quite on par with what's happening in Wisconsin," said Mulcahy, an observation that wins my vote for Understatement of the Year.


This situation points to a failure in leadership, both in St. Paul and in Morrill Hall. Within the next few years there will be turnover both places. In fact it would be best for both the state and the university if the current occupants immediately resigned.

This would mean a new governor with his or her full attention on the problems of the state. It would also allow the start of a search for a new U of M president, who could be on board before we go over the financial cliff. Since the president seems so interested in salting it away, perhaps we could offer a buy-out, as we do for football coaches?

Let's hope that the behavior of the incumbents is kept in mind when selecting their successors.

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