“In the News”

February 21, 2014

Chicago Biomedical Consortium Quoted as a Model of the Medici Effect

Financial Chronicle (FC) is the English-language daily newspaper with the largest circulation in south India and the fourth largest English daily in India, and also operates online at www.mydigitalfc.com. FC prides itself for being India’s business networking platform. In “Creating the Medici Effect in India,” an FC article published online on January 20, 2014, Arun Kumar Jain* discusses the current state of the universities in India. Jain criticizes an apparent lack of intra- and inter-university collaboration and suggests this as an underlying reason that Indian universities are not highly ranked among global institutions of higher education. The author defines the “Medici Effect” as the “cross breeding of ideas and bringing about new innovations at the intersections of disciplines.”

Jain argues that “The world of secretive soloists and single labs is gone — now is a world of interdependence, global collaboration and quick sharing (publishing).” Interestingly, he singles out the Chicago Biomedical Consortium (CBC) as a model of this new mindset that could transform higher education in India. He states: “We can learn from the biggest universities and research labs in and around Chicago that are collaborating and creating the Medici Effect. Through an initial fund set up by the Searle group**, a Chicago Biomedical Consortium was set up that mandated funded partnerships. A simple effort converted the competing universities and institutions into launching joint projects. As one scientist there mentioned, “The old philosophy was ‘the other guy is beating us’, now we are all cheer-leaders, taking pride in each-others’ success”. Once the ball was set rolling, funding and projects and other kind of help started pouring in. The US National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) helped create the critical mass for large-scale research.” Indeed, five national research centers have been established in Chicago with the help of the CBC Lever funds.

It is fascinating and gratifying to see that the CBC ‘s efforts are beginning to be noticed not only locally and nationally but also internationally. The “Medici Effect” is in full swing in Chicago, thanks to the generous support of the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust.

* The writer is a professor of strategy and corporate governance, Indian Institute of Management; IIM-Lucknow
** The CBC is supported by the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust.