Corporate research has become less centralized in the last 35-plus years. According to R&D Magazine, “Academic-industry partnerships are becoming increasingly robust and collaborative as a result of growing economic volatility, competition from emerging economies and a rapidly evolving technological landscape that has changed the way people work, exchange information and conduct research.” What does this trend mean for university researchers, technology transfer professionals, spin-offs, and startups?
As industry focus moves away from internal R&D, there is a greater need – and opportunity – for universities to engage in industry collaboration. University technology transfer has existed for many years, but based on changes in industry R&D, the role of the university in society has never been more important.
We expect three exciting opportunities for university innovation ecosystems:
1. More sponsored research agreements (SRAs).
As corporate investment in internal R&D falls, the need for research is still there. From basic research to specific research needs, corporate technology scouts will turn to SRAs to find the next great breakthrough. Building relationships with research labs is becoming more and more essential for industry. Research labs and tech transfer offices (TTOs), take note.
2. More interest in licensing university technologies.
For smaller universities and research institutions, it isn’t always easy to get industry’s attention. However, these days even the world’s leading companies need to expand their networks to find the best technologies. That means more networking with researchers, TTOs, spin-outs, and startups. (To help your institution’s researchers prepare for meetings with industry tech scouts, check out our post on how to impress tech watch.)
Eventually, you end up with excited licensees who won’t let your institution’s hard-won patents go unused.
3. More great innovations on the market.
If corporations are focusing more of their efforts on the commercialization of technologies, that is a form of specialization. If the transition is managed well, it means that both the research side (at universities) and the commercialization side (industry) will become more robust. This transition could lead to more funding for scientific research, faster innovation, and better products that are a true benefit to society.
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