Strengthening Industry-University Collaboration


Universities can be the most critical resources in a company’s innovation strategy. However, to establish value creation and knowledge sharing from research, companies need to follow these nine rules


MOST PREVIOUS STUDIES of industry-university collaboration have framed the analysis of such alliances in terms of research project outcomes, defined here as a result that creates a business value for a company, such as guidance for the direction of technology development. From a business point of view, however, research outcome is of only a part of the complete success. What matters is not outcome but impact on the market— on the customers or at least how the new knowledge derived from a collaboration with a university can contribute to a company’s optimum performance. Are new products or tools and practices have made possible? New and more effective manufacturing, operating and management processes? Has already been produced innovative software or tools that enable greater logistical efficiencies and risks management? What about the IPR framework that enhances open innovation and knowledge sharing? And what about new design and processes?

Open innovation and a sustainable ecosystem of synergistic interactions could address a common problem - the failure of wind power developers and investors to leverage their IPS financially by profiting from others use of their own technology through licensing agreements, joint ventures, partnerships, strategic alliances and other arrangements. In other words, a symbiotic relationship which could create a win/win model. Examples of such symbiosis in other sectors include Facebook, Amazon Web Stores, Google’s platforms and applications or the Aviation and Aerospace Industry partnerships.

Managers in the wind energy industry see working with academia as beneficial only to the extent that it advances the company toward its goals. The focus of our research, therefore, was on the impact of the potential alliances and synergistic interactions on organization products, processes or employees, as evaluated both by the direct wind power industry managers of university projects and by senior technical personnel employed in wind power plants. While managing the collaboration with universities, including developing supporting schemes as the 'Engineer the Future' program in Denmark, are important, and lengthy, precursors to the collaboration, this study primary strategic goals are:

  • Establish mutually beneficial research collaborations
  • Increase synergies between students, companies and wind power sector organizations
  • Facilitate dialogue between students, faculty members, researchers and external research collaborators

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Considerable attention has been paid in recent years to the transformative nature for the educational institutions and industry with regards to the strategic partnerships. Much of the discussion has focused on the characteristics of the institutional policies and regulations needed to initiate, develop and establish an effective research collaboration framework. Since 2000 several EU Commission taxonomies have also been developed to distinguish the most important parameters between the outcomes of collaboration for both parties involved and assess the various economic and social benefits as a whole.

With this report, we pursued to determine, in a measurable way, “best practices” for the selection process — the management and the development of relationships that enable a company to start a research partnership with a university and to evaluate the outcomes of this collaboration to the industry, the economy, the local region or society. To identify the best practices and their potential effects, we surveyed more than 50 projects at 27 multinational companies that engage in research collaborations