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Southern California's 'Research Triangle' Feeds Region's Unique Entrepreneurial Mix

September 24, 1989

Michael Schrage raised some interesting issues in his Sept. 14 column ("Entrepreneurial Gap at Local Universities"). However, I think his focus was too narrow to justify the conclusion that Southern California's three great research universities (Caltech, UCLA, USC) fail when it comes to generating innovation and entrepreneurship. Stanford's way is not the only way and may, in fact, not be the right way for this very different region.

The fact is, Caltech to the east, USC to the south, and UCLA to the west, together form a special kind of "research triangle" in the fastest growing industrial mega-city in the world. Within this triangle are USC's burgeoning health science complex, Caltech's Jet Propulsion Lab, and UCLA's health science center.

Speaking for the university I know best, USC didn't invent Los Angeles 109 years ago, any more than the city invented the university. But each continues to enrich the other. The "smarts and technologies" are indeed passed along from university to entrepreneur to corporation through formal and informal channels, through programs and through individuals.

USC has hundreds of examples of helping individuals and companies capitalize on technology and innovation in fields as far-ranging as music, communications, cinema, engineering, pharmacy, medicine, business and real estate.

The Silicon Valley is not the only model for an entrepreneurial environment. Los Angeles has the advantage of three great research universities in close proximity, a stable and diversified economic base, and, yes, enough entrepreneurial spirit inside and outside the universities to fuel new ideas and technologies for many decades to come.

JAMES H. ZUMBERGE

Los Angeles

The writer is president of USC

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