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Why don't more professors attempt to use the knowledge gained during the course of their research work by starting a company and commercializing their findings?

I'm asking this question per this comment.

1 Answer 1

For any given concept or niche, there is often a huge gap between the time when it's interesting to research that topic, and when it's mature enough to commercialize.

No matter if we're talking about new hardware, new chemical processes or new AI algorithms, there tends to be a decade or two between the point where there are major unresearched and novel parts of the problem, and where it's profitable to scale it as a business; and the problems you need to solve in order to demonstrate a proof of concept are very different from the type of problems you need to solve to make it cheap, predictable and attractive to consumers.

Most researchers are (and should be) working on areas that are far too bleeding edge to be commercialized yet. Most new product development is working on technologies that are already too mature and 'boring' to generate significant publishable research.

In essence, if you see a new 'bleeding edge technology' product in any area, there probably is a 10-20 year old academic paper describing the concept with an implementation that sort-of works if the stars are right, takes impractical effort to make, and practical use requires complementary things that aren't available yet. After some time... the prerequisites have commoditized, someone else has driven the costs down, and you can implement a lot of time in polishing the concept in order to build and sell it - but most researchers would rather research new things than polish the 'old' ones for consumption.