It’s no secret that the Digital Era has caused significant shifts in how industries and institutions operate around the world. Previously, academics and corporate industries were two entirely different landscapes, but recent innovations have created changes that have merged the methods of operations for both by increasing the opportunities for partnership deals between universities and companies.
Since both sides have their own research and development areas, it makes sense to merge them together in search of common goals. These partnerships frequently result in outcomes that benefit the common good, and historically divergent reasons for the animosity between corporations and universities no longer apply. Now, the need for them to converge over the past decade has become apparent, and the advantages to having dynamic partnerships make it a regular practice for corporations and universities to work together.
The Trend Towards Research Collaboration
As more studies are performed showing the positive correlation between increased productivity and higher impact ratings with collaborative research groups, the merit of the idea takes new shape in innovative ways. Studies have demonstrated consistency in the findings that when multiple researchers work together, particularly when they are in cross-disciplined areas, the findings generate a wider impact and show a larger picture than what would be managed through independent research or research from a homogenous team of academics.
Some of the possibilities behind the success of these findings are attributed to the fact that when research is spread out amongst multiple people, they are able to dig deeper in one area than they could otherwise. Impact is also higher when multiple institutions cooperate because the researchers have access to equipment, labs, datasets, libraries, and knowledge that they might not have had otherwise.
Researchers are also quickly becoming cognizant of the realization that working together allows everyone to aid in strengthening weaknesses and utilizing strong points in ways that help the collective good. Multiple backgrounds, perspectives, cultures, demographics, and areas of specialization adhere together to form a larger viewpoint, bringing in information that creates a more impactful outcome than anything that could have been possible with a less heterogeneous grouping of academic experts, and corporations, and universities have realized this fact and begun working together to expand on the potential benefits.
Benefits of Corporate/University Partnerships
Fostering dynamic partnerships between universities and corporations creates advantages for all parties involved, as well as the targeted recipients of the research outcomes. These partnerships are increasing because of benefits such as:
● Companies are more likely to find academic workers with the skills they are looking for to absorb into their research and development teams when they already have a working relationship with a reputable university. For this reason, many large corporations set up a presence near research universities that have dedicated centers that correlate with the company’s goals.
● Companies are able to get on board with research earlier and protect their interests by funding early-stage research and encouraging avenues of investigation through their university relationship.
● When long-term relationships are built between companies and universities, trust develops that enables both sides to foster better research endeavors. Because of the foundational relationship, it’s easier for researchers to obtain financing for their studies and for universities and companies to come to agreements regarding licensing of any properties that arise from the collaborative research.
● Agreements for non-disclosure discussions are easier to cultivate when there is a working relationship established between the company and the university, so if a breakthrough in innovation occurs, the company is able to get access to the technology first.
Between the financial accessibility the companies offer the university and the relationship fostered that gives the companies first access to any new technology, it has become increasingly important for both sides to develop a dynamic partnership in which everyone wins.