Entrepreneurial Universities and Industry Interaction around the world

A previous post introduced a pan-european study on university-business cooperation presented recently at the University-Industry Interaction Conference in Amsterdam. In this post I continue with selected summaries of other studies from the conference, representing a variety of different perspectives and practice from around the world.

Australia, Germany and the Netherlands
– Germany’s Science to Business Marketing Research Centre at Muenster looked at behavioural factors affecting success in university-industry links in Australia, Germany and the Netherlands. They showed that prior experience of university-industry links is a driver of change, but varied across the three dimensions of changed strategy, mindset and approach. Studying both industry partners and academics, they found strategy was more long term and better aligned with university/corporate strategy, with improved selectivity of good partners and a high orientation to the other environment. Mindset showed increased confidence, with better goals and managing expectations more effectively. Approach was seen to change only for academics, where with more experience they were more likely to run taster projects, adapt their quality processes to industry and better balance under promising and over delivering.

Germany – a study from Leuphana University of Lüneburg explored the lack of consensus on what an entrepreneurial university is, and by looking at the general characteristics defined 4 archetypes: research-preneurial, techni-preneurial (driven by industry), inno-preneurial (by innovation), and commerce-preneurial.

Russia – a study of the 29 elite national research universities using the OECD entrepreneurial universities framework showed entrepreneurship clearly recognised in missions/strategies, with a big increase in all factors between 2008-2012.

The most highly developed aspects were in strategy and financial resources, but putting this in context, the recent scores were still only 2 out of 5, up from a very low starting point. Characteristics noted in this Russian study included a dependency on state funding; a focus on startups mirroring a US approach, but also patents and licensing; development of infrastructure; interdisciplinary research not common; enterprise education in its infancy.

Switzerland – at the University of Geneva, cross collaboration was promoted through interaction events. Tactics included deliberately placing people at dinner (matchmaking), and even a second seating plan part way through the night. They aimed to build trust through networking events before engaging in co-creation or co-development, themes echoed in Jisc’s own Open Innovation and Access to Resources projects.
Finland and the US – In a comparative analysis of academic entrepreneurship education and practice in US and Finnish universities, it was reported that a focus on Third Mission had intensified due to the Euro crisis, budget deficits and inefficiencies in administration in Finnish universities. Cultural differences to the US included the importance of face-saving, to do your job well, and equality, to not stand out from the crowd. It was also found that there were more public stakeholders and funding and less entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in an environment where commercialisation had only really been part of the picture for the last decade.

China – A study of university business cooperation in China discussed whether western models of such activity including Triple Helix and quatraplex were relevant in single party states. Triple Helix was the subject of a separate session by it’s founder Henry Etzkovitch, but in this session an alternative model designed for China was discussed – the Z model. Issues specific to China included low absorption capacity for innovation, the lack of a true market economy and lack of an independent civil society. “Old China” was said to be characterised by low social responsibility, poor problem solving and thinking. In China, universities “lease autonomy” from the state in return for contributing to national technological development goals. Their goals tended to be largely pragmatic, with an emphasis on science.

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