Investments, etymologically the clothes you put on, typically “belong” to some investor, an entity with the power to confer ownership.
This conferring of ownership, often for a price, requires a strong sense of ownership in the first place, which is where the ability to investment comes in.
If a service, commodity, or resource has a price tag, then likely there’s a way to aggregate it into “futures” i.e. the right to buy said goods at some locked in price down the road.
How does “ownership” work with regard to intellectual property? A patent troll may amass ownership rights, with the power to confer, without having the slightest interest in actually implementing the amassed ideas.
One motive for procuring patents is to control or put off their implementation. Whomever invented such ideas in the first place might live to see them shelved, now that they’ve been procured.
A competing business that sees a given patent as a threat, may procure the patent to forestall competition.
The university, as an institution, is expected to work through many types of intellectual asset. The pressure to patent has sharply increased across the board, as a way to rack up points and bring prestige to a faculty and program.
On the other hand, so-called “open source” designs, which go by different protections, cannot be legally hoarded by patent trolls or competitors.
Many are looking to universities for breakthrough technologies that might help humanity without becoming the private property of an elite few. Is this hope misplaced?