Opening universities everywhere was a hallmark of Social Democratic regional policy in Sweden during the 1990s and early 2000s. Richard Florida has some sceptical words about the tendency to see universities as instruments for regional economic policy:
Businesses, governments and economists talk of getting local universities more involved in technology transfer, commercial innovation and start-ups. “If only our university could be more like Stanford and MIT,” they say.
The idea actually sells universities short. It oversells their commercial role and underestimates their other contributions. There are only a few instances where universities have played a major role in high-tech development — certainly Silicon Valley and Greater Boston, as well as Austin, North Carolina’s Research Triangle and Waterloo, Ont.
It’s more common for regions to export technology their universities create. Economist Michael Fogarty has found that while labs in Detroit, Pittsburgh and Cleveland generate plenty of patents, most of them find their commercial uses in Boston, San Francisco, New York or Tokyo.
The entire thing is here.