We must translate our discoveries and innovations to the world. The paths for bringing ideas from a university to society have evolved significantly over the past several decades. The traditional technology transfer to an industrial research lab is increasingly being replaced by translation through the creation of a new venture, be it a commercial start-up or a non-profit. Government funded research is becoming more translational, with numerous agencies that have been historically focused on basic research now venturing into the applied research space. This demands a change in how we move through the translational path, yet not at the expense of doing broad-based fundamental research.

RPI excels at fostering entrepreneurs. In fact, Harvard economist Raj Chetty’s Opportunity Insights group ranks RPI third nationwide in terms of the percentage of our alumni who have become inventors, trailing only MIT and Carnegie Mellon. Indeed, much of Troy and the region have come to life, in part because of the companies founded by our alumni.


As an institution, we need to do everything possible to help our current students and our faculty carry their ideas into the marketplace. That means using our convening power vigorously, to bring together the financial and intellectual capital to help our entrepreneurs. We need to think creatively and flexibly about partnerships that can launch our innovations into the world. Finally, we need to bring out the natural entrepreneurship that exists among our students, faculty, and staff, including the excitement and reward of taking risks, whether that be in forming a new company or pursuing challenging solutions to complex problems facing society.

By educating so many brilliant young people who start and staff local businesses, RPI already plays an important role in regional economic development. However, we also have the opportunity to do even more.

Framing Questions

  • What is our current inventory of activities that support translation?
  • What more should we do on campus to support translation?
    • How should this be organized?
    • How do we promote entrepreneurial activities and risk taking?
    • How do we support new ventures from RPI students, faculty, and staff across all segments of the Rensselaer community?
  • How is translation linked to research and education?
    • How does this go beyond entrepreneurship education?
    • What are the clear links to RPI’s major research investments?
  • What is needed in the region to support translation?
  • How do we foster relationships with the start-up community?
    • Do we establish a venture fund, and if so, under what policies?
  • What are the needed resources? 

View latest ideas in Translation

Back to top