The International University-Industry Interaction Conference was held recently at the Dutch Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, with the theme “Challenges and solutions for fostering entrepreneurial universities and collaborative innovation”. The conference brought together more than 300 participants from 48 countries. The international flavour was evident in the wide range of presentations offered in the programme, with some very interesting studies exploring how universities and business interaction occurred across the world.
Despite the title of the conference that focuses purely on “Industry”, and an implication in some of the language of the sessions that the focus is on the more “traditional” topics of knowledge transfer, informal conversations reflected a shift to a more inclusive or broader approach around a wider variety of interactions.
One comment from a German colleague was that by shifting away from a focus on patents and pure ‘push’ commercialisation to collaborative partnerships and development, they had seen a significant increase in income through the resulting relationships and royalty/licensing arrangements that arose from co-development.
The conference sessions were many and varied, and a selection of summaries of some of the studies presented will appear in a later blog post, but as an introduction, a useful place to start is with a pan-european study into University Business Cooperation (UBC) led by the Science-to-Business Marketing Research Centre in Münster. This study led to some interesting findings, including internal bureaucracy being a major barrier, but that removal of barriers does not in itself lead to cooperation.
Additionally, bureaucracy was only identified by academics as a barrier and not by senior managers. Perceptions of benefits were seen to be influential, notably that academics saw benefits for all other stakeholders above their own.
Other findings recognised by readers here in the UK would be that mutual trust and relationships are critical, as are having a strategy and other supporting mechanisms.
The study categorised 8 types of UBC including R&D collaboration, commercialisation of R&D, lifelong learning, curriculum development and delivery. This chimes well with the dimensions of Business and Community Engagement within Jisc. Other less obvious categories included mobility of staff and students.
30 good practice case studies have been developed as a result of the research and there is a nice video that summarises some of the key findings