Maximising the Value of Cooperation

Between Business & Universities 

In 2021, this interactive webinar explored 3 Key Questions - 

1) Why should businesses and universities collaborate?

2) How can they work together to create shared value? and

3) What helps to maximise the value and impact of these collaborations?

Our speakers were:

Jo Cresswell, Guest Speaker, England 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

Jan Frick, Guest Speaker, Norway 🇳🇴

Jay Wasim, Guest Speaker, Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

The event was moderated by Paul Coyle, SHINE Project Founder, France🇫🇷

Registrations were received from participants in 9 countries:

Egypt🇪🇬, England🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿, France🇫🇷, Germany🇩🇪, Norway🇳🇴, Scotland🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿, Serbia🇷🇸, Tajikistan🇹🇯 and the USA🇺🇸,

Picture Credit: Pixabay

Key Question 1) Why should businesses and universities collaborate?

Amongst the responses to our first question “Why should businesses and universities collaborate?” participants highlighted the following key aims:

  • To exchange experience with each other

  • To address real problems including the big challenges facing the world

  • To create value for society

  • To anticipate future needs

  • To foster innovation

  • To ensure students have an up to date understanding of the real world

  • To keep Higher Eduction relevant and current in a rapidly changing world, with business acting as a critical friend

Jo Cresswell

Our first speaker was Jo Cresswell who is the Founder of Dr Joanne Cresswell Coaching in Manchester, UK.  She previously worked as Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University of Salford, UK. 

In the video clip below, Jo talks about the importance of collaborations between higher education and business, the value this generates for society, and the need for a better understanding of graduate skills in relation to their future careers.  

In other comments, Jo recommended that using a ‘stakeholder model’ in university business collaboration can help to ensure that a diverse range of views are influential, including those from industry, from academics across different disciplines and from the professional services who support new partnerships, technology transfer, commercialisation and impact creation.

Key Question 2) How can universities and business work together to create shared value?

Amongst the responses to our second question “How can universities and business work together to create shared value?” participants highlighted the following key points:

  • It is important to focus on local/regional collaborations that address economic, social and cultural needs

  • We need to acknowledge that University business collaboration can sometimes be very challenging

  • Silos within organisations make collaboration difficult, and they exist within business and inside universities

  • We need more interdisciplinary projects if we are going to solve our real word problems

  • It is important to identify lessons learned from the experience of collaboration, so that we understand what works, what doesn’t and to use this understanding to try to improve
  • Building better internal collaboration within a university, for example between academic disciplines, could be the basis of creating stronger external ties within the local/regional economy

Jan Frick

The second speaker was Jan Frick a Professor at UIS Business School, University of Stavanger, Norway. He has managed several Norwegian and international research projects, and coordinated industrial collaboration networks. He also supports the Entrepreneurial Mindset Network in his role as a member of the MINDSET LEAP (Leading Experts and Advisors Panel). 

In the video clip below, Jan talks about why universities and business should collaborate. He cites the symbiosis between business and universities i.e. how they depend on each other.  

He notes that for graduates to function in companies, universities need a good understanding of what companies do now and where they are likely to be in the future. 

In other comments, as an entrepreneur himself, Jan questioned how well universities and businesses communicate with each other. He noted that each has their own metrics for success and this can lead to a clash of culture. Jan recommends that universities should broker the networking and communication between businesses of different sizes, rather than just talking to just larger companies or only smaller ones.

Key Question 3) What helps to maximise the value and impact of these collaborations?

Amongst the responses to our third question “What helps to maximise the value and impact of these collaborations?” participants highlighted the following key points:

  • Collaboration has to be a fundamental purpose of the university; this comes easier to some universities than others
  • Universities should make clear what business will get out of the collaboration, manage expectations and ensure that there are mutual benefits
  • There can be a lack of trust in industry about the university's practices, so it can take time and effort to win business over
  • When connecting university and business it is important to get the right person at the meeting e.g. the decision maker, the doer, the funder
  • It would help if academic career structures recognised and rewarded business collaboration 
  • A large factor in making this work is understanding and communicating why this matters to each partner/stakeholder/service. This is critical for getting all parties on board.

One of the many positive features of the event was the opportunity to hear the perspectives of developing countries on these issues e.g. the difficulty of recruiting researchers when academic salaries are low in comparison to those in industry.

Jay Wasim

Our third speaker was Jay Wasim an Associate Professor at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland and Director of the MSc International Master in Industrial Management.  He is a scholar with a PhD in Strategy, Enterprise and Innovation and an entrepreneur who started his first venture at the age of 12. Jay is also a valued member of the MINDSET LEAP (Leading Experts and Advisors Panel). 

Drawing on his experience of managing industry partnerships Jay identifies what he sees as a big divide between academia and industry. This is partly because the labour market has shifted from a need for physical labour to intellectual labour, and education has yet to fully adjust to this change.

Jay identifies the importance of managing the expectations of both higher education institutions and business in collaborations. Students also have a role to play, working on live projects from business and providing useful, creative solutions and recommendations.