Are You Taking Business University Engagement Seriously?

14th July 2016


Business/University engagement that drives innovation is a body contact sport. Are you prepared for the commitment?

Have you invested in regular and frequent meetings that bring the partners together? Is there a project schedule with realistic milestones?

History tells us that business/university partnerships are poorly managed and are often not strategically aligned. The same approach to the management of supply chains or major customers would not be tolerated.

History also tells us that many university academics only engage with industry and business partners when other sources of funding ‘dry-up’. As a consequence partnerships with industry, are often seen as a ‘one off’ project to fill a funding gap.  The corollary to this is that there is often a lack of relationship building to explore the next project that could be based on an improved understanding of the needs of the business and the skills of the university researchers. 

Now, many new research leaders have recognised that the traditional academic culture is poorly equipped to attract and maintain partners to business and government.  And business leaders are noticing that the preconceived notions they had about academics are now no longer relevant.

A transformative shift is underway. Some universities have appointed ‘Industry Professors’, others ensure that the projects of undergraduates and post graduates’ are based on real industry problems.

The higher education sector is on the cusp of a major thrust to measure the impact of their research.  The translation of research into innovative products, process and policy is a mantra guiding university strategy.  

It is clear, universities need business engagement as much as business needs engaged research.

Not only does there need to be a willingness to engage on research projects together but there needs to be a strong desire to develop long term relationships that will drive innovation. 

Constant communication and refinement of goals, regular meetings and strong project management, industry based student projects, researchers embedded in industry settings.  Yes there is a high demand for body contact and this type of contact will build strength in both parties.