Physics Colloquium: From Basic Science to Technology: Why and How Academic Scientists Should Engage in Commercialization

Event Details

  • Speaker(s): M. Cynthia Goh
  • Date:
  • Time: 4:00 PM
  • Location: MacN 101

Department of Chemistry & Institute for Optical Sciences
University of Toronto


The expected output of academic research labs in the pure sciences is knowledge. And, perhaps contrary to the belief of the outsider, knowledge is not technology. Furthermore, technology by itself is not beneficial to society. In this talk I will highlight these different concepts using the examples of research activities in my lab – our very fundamental work on trying to understand interactions between complex molecules – and how we have generated three companies on the side. I will argue on the need for our (academic scientists) involvement in the commercialization process in order to maximize benefits to society. I will then discuss what I believe are “best practices” on how to engage in commercialization efforts within the academic setting, and taking into account potential conflicts of interest. The take home lesson is that fundamental science and the generation of wealth and benefits to society are not only non-orthogonal, but can be mutually beneficial.

Host: John Dutcher