Editorial: Business incubator benefits could plug brain drain

It seems that every day USF is trying to find ways to cut costs and boost revenue.

Because of the state budget deficit, USF and other members of the State University System (SUS) continue to look for ways to save and generate money.

Sometimes, these efforts drive away professors who look for universities where there’s enough money for programs and research.

During major University restructuring this summer, more than 10 professors — including a key robotics researcher — left USF for other universities for money-related reasons.

However, there is one model that USF could implement more extensively  that  may help researchers carry out projects — and  keep faculty on campus despite budget cuts.

The College of Engineering has applied what’s called the business incubator model, through which students and faculty can turn their often-lucrative ideas into realities. USF, along with other universities nationwide, provides the financial support and necessary resources entrepreneurs and seasoned researchers need — whether that means office or laboratory space or even scientific expertise — in order for their ideas or companies to develop into financially independent ventures.

By focusing on technology rather than the publication of scholarly articles, the University plays a much larger role in the community.

The incubator can be an economic engine driving research in projects from biotech to alternative fuels.

Though it is important to write and publish articles for the scholarly community, fostering more tangible technology is important in preserving this community, too.

Consider that robotics expert Robin Murphy left USF after 10 years for Texas A&M University because of budget cuts and an offer of better pay.

If faculty and staff are worried that budget cuts could affect their projects and research, surely an incubator could prove an incentive for them to stay.

Although the University may not be able to pay its faculty as much as they could earn in other states, the draw of having the support to realize ideas may be enough to attract and retain talented researchers.

USF boasts that it’s one of the top three research universities in the state. But if it wants to be on par with Florida’s flagship university, the University of Florida, it is important for the USF administration to find ways to avoid sacrificing education and research because of budget cuts.

Though the summer trend of faculty departures seems to have slowed, officials may be able to prevent it from happening again by offering benefits that are as attractive as higher pay.