03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Unsticky Gum? It's In The Works

Terence Cosgrove, an unassuming professor in this western English town, imagined a world where chewing gum did not stick to sidewalks and shoes, theater seats or hair.

Because Professor Cosgrove studies polymers -- the chemical compounds that, among other things, make plastics plastic and chewing gum chewy -- his was no idle dream. If he could find the right chemical mixture, the professor surmised, he could retain the chewy without the sticky.

If Professor Cosgrove had been at an American university instead of Bristol University, he might have been able to receive start-up capital for such a potentially commercially viable invention -- from a venture capitalist, private industry or perhaps even the government. But for most of his career there was no tradition in England of universities acting as incubators for purely commercial products.

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