Academic freedom to invent rather than university socialism is the core to a healthy innovation culture.*

In the US state of Washington, Senator Maralyn Chase has introduced Senate Bill 6542, the Innovation Bill of Rights. The bill proposes a law that would forbid public universities from making assignment of inventions compulsory as a condition of employment or use of facilities, unless required by an external sponsor of research. This bill sparked quite a debate, with the university leaders arguing for institutional socialism and the faculty wondering whatever happened to academic freedom.

At the core of the debate is the question of whether people expect innovation to come about as the result of institutional order and control, or from individual initiative and diversity. It’s Keynes vs Hayek! The great challenge is that this debate in general has no black and white–not because there isn’t any to be had, but that different societies have different needs, and a chaotic society recovering from upheaval might desire Keynes as a…

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