Why Companies Should Collaborate With Academia

Why Companies Should Collaborate With Academia

By Shehwar Ali

In history, it is evident that progress has always been inextricably bound with scientific leadership.

In order to excel, whether it be in information technology, agriculture, biotechnology or renewable energy, companies must stay one step ahead of their competitors.

Staying ahead is not possible without research.

Public Grants Foster Research:

Some private companies do hire the services of scientists. However, in developed countries, most of the research is backed by some sort of public grant. Google, for instance, initiated its set up with a federal grant. This very strategy has led to the finest inventions of our times such as GPS, Internet, drugs, etc.

No matter how high the initial investment might be, the returns are almost always higher. Thus, for a company which is aspiring to come up with a revolutionary product, cutting edge research is the key to success.

Now, the question which arises at this juncture is “how will a private company find out about this latest, exploratory research and turn it into an industrial profit?”

This is where academic research comes in.

Scientific Journals and Industry Innovation Events:

One way to gain access to academic research is simply to be interested in and observant of whatever is going around in the world of research, and to hone in on your field. Most of the times, research which is funded through federal grants is publicly available so companies can hugely benefit from this invaluable channel.

Close scrutiny of scientific journals and sending internal researchers to research conferences or niche industry innovation events can all prove to be extremely valuable for companies and their development. Some companies designate particular employees to each of these particular roles to the extent that their entire careers are focused on such specific roles. Others who lack extensive resources may opt for an ad-hoc approach.

The Competitive Edge: Companies Collaborating with Academia:

Another strategy that a number of companies deploy is to partner up with academia. While the resources and tools are available, the hardest part of research is not asking the right questions, it is finding the right answers. The Science Business Innovation Board AISBL, in a report stated:

“…The most successful technology multichannels have deep partnerships with a relatively small number of universities…as a result, if Europe wishes to compete in the global marketplace for science and technology, it must strengthen a small number of top-class universities.”

These partnerships that companies like Microsoft, Nokia, and GE develop for their innovation research and development projects, are essentially different from government grants in many ways, however, they enable companies to get hold of the research results directly and promptly and provide a competitive edge.

Examples of Companies Partnering with Academia:

When academia and companies collaborate, there is a huge stimulus and catalyst for economic growth. This is evident from the partnership among Microsoft, Cisco, Intel and the University of Melbourne which sought to research ways to transform the face of education of the 21st century. Similarly, The Energy Biosciences Institute also has a research partnership which focuses on deploying modern biology in order to address energy concerns.

Furthermore, Audi also collaborated with the Technical University of Munich to come up with more innovations. This is in line with the collaboration made between Imperial College, London and Nestle Research to figure out ways that could improve nutrition.

Thus, these strategic partnerships between industry and academia have proved to be far more effective than conventional modes of funding which rely upon discrete projects and have helped in boosting global knowledge as well as the global economy.

Have you partnered with academia? PreScouter partners with top-tier global universities to bridge the gap from academia to industry. Find out more. 

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Learn more about PreScouter at www.prescouter.com.

More of Our Insights & Work