tweeds-to-riches
adj. Describes the process whereby a university professor or graduate student takes his or her research and parlays it into a successful company.

Example Citation:
"An academic whose expertise is in parallel algorithms and applied mathematics, Leighton is at first glance an unlikely candidate for an Internet tweeds-to-riches success story."
—David Rotman, "Akamai's Algorithms," Technology Review, September, 2000

Notes:
Today's phrase is almost certainly a neologism coined by Mr. Rotman. I don't normally post neologisms, but with so many professors and other academic types creating successful businesses from their research, it filled a hole in the language too neatly to ignore it.

Another contender for this niche is robes-to-riches:


"My favorite robes-to-riches story is about a family friend, the late Claude Olney. Olney taught business law at Arizona State University, where his son entered college with only a provisional admittance. Wanting to help his son do better, Olney took it upon himself to figure out what his own top students were doing to get high grades....Olney soon turned his new knowledge into a seminar and then into a video program, 'Where There's a Will, There's an 'A,' ' which became an infomercial phenomenon, selling more than a million copies." —Dale Dauten, "Special ed teacher should go for the gold," Star Tribune, February 16, 1997
Robes-to-riches is closer to rags-to-riches alliteratively, but "robes" is only a so-so reference to an academic, so I prefer tweeds-to-riches.

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