Break-Out Groups: Objectives

Following case presentations, workshop participants broke into smaller groups to address several questions concerning the factors that define successful partnerships. These included:

  • What are the general characteristics of successful partnerships? What quantitative and qualitative measures can be employed to evaluate success?
  • What are the criteria for success in these endeavors?
  • What specific actions should each of the research sectors and the participating or sponsoring organizations take to improve current and future collaborations?

The final session of the workshop included reports on these breakout discussions.

Characteristics and Measures of Successful Partnerships

Discussions during breakout sessions identified a host of characteristics or indicators of successful research partnerships. The critical characteristics differed for the various parties to the collaboration.

For Industry

Characteristics of success identified by industrial participants included:

  • increased awareness of and exposure to new technologies;
  • increased opportunities to enhance the knowledge base of employees;
  • greater opportunity to contribute toward the conception of new strategies;
  • greater access to a highly trained pool of potential personnel;
  • greater access to intellectual property, patents, and publications; and
  • enhanced stature in academia and industry, leading—among other things—to recruitment of knowledgeable employees.

For Universities

The success of a collaborative arrangement for academic parties to such partnerships is evidenced in:

  • sustained corporate support of research;
  • enhanced appreciation of industry's needs with respect to economics, marketing, environment, and risk;
  • expanded research and learning opportunities for graduate students;
  • increased publications and patents; and


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 12
--> Break-Out Groups: Objectives Following case presentations, workshop participants broke into smaller groups to address several questions concerning the factors that define successful partnerships. These included: What are the general characteristics of successful partnerships? What quantitative and qualitative measures can be employed to evaluate success? What are the criteria for success in these endeavors? What specific actions should each of the research sectors and the participating or sponsoring organizations take to improve current and future collaborations? The final session of the workshop included reports on these breakout discussions. Characteristics and Measures of Successful Partnerships Discussions during breakout sessions identified a host of characteristics or indicators of successful research partnerships. The critical characteristics differed for the various parties to the collaboration. For Industry Characteristics of success identified by industrial participants included: increased awareness of and exposure to new technologies; increased opportunities to enhance the knowledge base of employees; greater opportunity to contribute toward the conception of new strategies; greater access to a highly trained pool of potential personnel; greater access to intellectual property, patents, and publications; and enhanced stature in academia and industry, leading—among other things—to recruitment of knowledgeable employees. For Universities The success of a collaborative arrangement for academic parties to such partnerships is evidenced in: sustained corporate support of research; enhanced appreciation of industry's needs with respect to economics, marketing, environment, and risk; expanded research and learning opportunities for graduate students; increased publications and patents; and

OCR for page 12
--> opportunities to consult outside of academe. For State Government Research Centers State and local governments acknowledge the success of industry-university collaborations when they contribute to: the generation of jobs; the formation of spin-off companies; an increased tax base; and overall economic development. For All Participants Certain indicators of success are common to all parties to collaborative research relationships. For industry, university, and government participants alike, successful partnerships deliver value for each partner that is greater than any participant would enjoy alone. Among the many approaches to demonstrating this outcome, discussions during breakout sessions identified the following: project milestones are achieved; frequent communication between partners occurs; the number of quality publications and student theses resulting from collaborative research is comparable to other productive research areas; the number and quality of ideas resulting in follow-up activity shows a mutually stimulating influence among the partners; intellectual property (e.g., number of patents or copyrights applied for or granted) is generated; the number and quality of graduate students or post-doctoral fellows hired by industrial partners are increased; continuity of the relationship extends beyond the initial projects; and the fiscal status of the partnering company improves. Criteria or Predictors of Success Participants identified a host of prerequisites or criteria they believe predict success in research partnerships. These factors have been grouped into three general categories: (1) ''attitudinal'' issues, or specific aspects of the cultures and objectives of partner organizations; (2) "systems" factors, or aspects of organizational process and infrastructure; and (3) management issues. Cultural and Attitudinal Factors Certain attitudes and expectations presage successful partnerships. These include: a clear understanding at the outset of partners' roles and the rules of engagement; mutual perception of value in each partner's contribution to the relationship;

OCR for page 12
--> mutual respect and appreciation of organizational differences, missions, motivations, and working environments; a shared agenda and desire to work together; the ability of all partners to interact with one another on an interdisciplinary basis, and to see beyond the bounds of individual specialties; expectations of and efforts to foster a win-win outcome by all parties to partnership negotiations; and minimal impact of the "not-invented-here" syndrome on the part of industry, and of a traditional academic tendency to look with less regard upon applied or problem-solving research, i.e., an attitude of ownership and responsiveness on all sides. Systems Factors Certain facets of organizational process and infrastructure enhance partnership efforts. These include: intellectual property and publication policies that balance industry's need to secure patent protection with the university's obligation to disseminate knowledge freely; agreements that are tailored to the size of the project, to the needs of the parties, and to other factors specific to the project; and incentive systems on both sides of a partnership—and especially within the university's tenure and promotion system—that reward interdisciplinary collaborations. Management Issues Senior management in industry and in universities have a tremendous impact on the probability of success in industry-university collaborations. Several requirements for success are identified below. Champions are needed who have a vested interest in the partnership's success and who can match industry and university scientists. Senior management or executive level personnel must demonstrate support for partnering by providing adequate financial, human, and capital resources. Industry must be willing to assign their best and brightest technicians to collaborative ventures. An infrastructure must be in place to execute, manage, evaluate, and reward collaborations. The industrial management structure should empower front-line researchers as decision makers for the projects. Frequent and clear communication is needed on expectations and progress at all levels of the partnership. Finally, participants agreed that successful partnerships typically are market-driven, not technology-driven. They concurred, too, that the most successful partnerships include a system of mutually defined metrics to measure success and satisfaction, and to

OCR for page 12
--> foster continuous improvement in the processing, functioning, and effectiveness of the partnership. Approaches to Improving Industry-University Partnerships in the U.S. Finally, workshop participants suggested productive approaches to increasing the number, value, and effectiveness of industry-university research partnerships. Some of the many ideas to emerge are listed here. For Industry Options for industry activity include these: take the lead to develop technology goals and development strategies with the participation of universities, state, and federal agencies; designate contact points for universities as liaisons to establish continuity in communications and linkages; communicate to students and to faculty the reality of business priorities and expectations for newly-hired scientists and engineers. For Universities Members of the academic community together might: become more user-friendly by designing intellectual property policies that facilitate commercialization, by providing one-stop shopping, by offering databases, and by developing marketing interfaces with industry; facilitate sabbaticals at companies for interested faculty, and arrange cooperative opportunities for students; modify incentive and reward systems to award credit for interdisciplinary, industry-university research collaborations, thereby acknowledging the value of team approaches and of applied research. For Research Partners All participants in collaborative research can strive to: reach a clear understanding about the different motivations for participating in collaborative research in order to foster a win-win climate for negotiations; look for innovative approaches to access research equipment and facilities, e.g. leasing equipment and space, sharing facilities, and using those resources for dual purposes, such as research and testing; encourage students to pursue both discovery and problem-solving research; encourage strategic relationships between specific universities, specific companies, state agencies, and federal agencies, to broaden interaction beyond technology areas (e.g., business, law, and social sciences);