Busting five myths of university-industry collaboration

MIT Sloan Management Review conducted a piece of research on over 100 university-industry collaborations. The research took examples of what worked and what didn’t work in these project collaborations. The data gathered was both quantitative and qualitative and focused on two levels – firstly, whether the collaboration achieved the goals set out at the start of the project and secondly, what the lasting impacts were on the company as a result of the project.

In assessing collaboration successes and failures, although there are clearly learning outcomes from projects that were not counted as a success, the report highlighted five myths about successful university-industry collaborations.

The five myths of successful university-industry collaborations: –

1. Presence of an executive champion
The success of a collaborative project is not dependent on having an industry champion but is dependent on the project addressing a particular need for the company.

2. Geographic proximity
Successful projects are far more dependent on the communications between the research team and the company over and above geographic locations of the institutions.

3. Overall project cost
The time frame of the project is a key determinator over and above the cost of the project.

4. Type of research: basic, applied or advanced development
Again the key determining factor for a successful project is not the type of research but whether or not a university-industry collaboration will address a particular need for industry.

5. Location of project manager
Again geographic location is not a determining factor of how well the project manager delivers the project, but rather that the project manager ensures that there is clear and coherent communication between all the stakeholders involved with the project.

The report findings include seven keys to collaboration success very much from an industry perspective. The key take away from the seven tips from a university’s perspective are that communication with the university partner is paramount both pre, during and post project.

Click here to download the full report.

Diana Hayes

A key part of the founding team, Diana is achievement-oriented, forward-thinking and strategic in creating a high-yielding network of interested academics, universities and related associations. Her research and content have created genuine engagement amongst both candidates and employers resulting in a network of 250,000 academics. Diana’s experience is in sales, marketing, event management and business development.


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