cooperatives, like SEMATECH raise funds through membership fees and award research funds to academic institutions in response to specific proposals.
Many institutions have formed affiliate programs by which companies can acquire access to an institution's or a department's research results through conferences, mutual visits, and publications. Often these results are available to affiliates prior to public release, and thus may enable them to gain a competitive edge. The relationships are frequently bidirectional, in which the academic institution receives important advice on the needs of the marketplace.
Universities and state and local governments have also been creating incubators and research parks to facilitate technology transfer. In many instances, these start-up ventures are provided inexpensive space, scientific advice, and laboratory and library services. The benefits include a mutually supportive environment for industry and the academic institution, with the potential for collaboration that may spawn new ideas and the synergism for a dynamic academic-industry enterprise.
An evolving paradigm of academically based research with significant involvement of industry might be the creation of centers of excellence focusing on a specific research theme combining the support of academic institutions, industry, the federal government, and other sources. One example of a center with such a funding portfolio is the Transplantation Biology Research Center at the Massachusetts General Hospital that was formed to bring together a critical mass of basic scientists and clinical investigators to move fundamental research results more efficiently into clinical practice. As federal research support becomes ever more constrained, these collaborative efforts may become important means of leveraging scarce resources and achieving high-quality research.
Industry also may provide operating or capital funds for academic institutions in terms of gifts. Such gifts do not obligate the investigator or the academic institution to provide anything in return.
Support for training is another important contribution to the academic sector. Some companies directly sponsor fellowships for trainees both in industrial laboratories and in academic laboratories. Others may contribute to a common fund for training that is overseen by a third-party such as Merck's support for clinical research fellowships offered by the American Federation for Clinical Research.
Many academic institutions have developed expertise in patenting the novel findings of their scientists with the hope that the patents will yield products and return capital to the academic institution. In the past, academic institutions