When I was a Telecommunications Engineering doctorate student at the Technical University of Madrid, in the late 80´s, I learned from my professors that the contribution to our society, as researchers, would be to assist the technological growing of our telecommunications and electronic industry.
For that reason I have been always closely in touch with my nearest enterprises (that is, regional ones) in order to help them to innovate and to introduce the more advanced technologies by means of developing novel products or processes. Many university professors of engineering have played the same role. No doubt we performed our mission.
Today, it seems Spanish university laws and usages are no longer promoting that university professors work closely with enterprises, which clearly is a mistake.