1 - Fostering collaboration between Universities and Business

1.6 - Consolidating long-term relationships with Universities


Innovation and Research require a stable and enduring framework to achieve their efficiency and productivity objectives. Likewise, cooperative research projects developed between Universities and Companies will provide greater benefits when a stable and durable process of interaction is established. Therefore, and taking the specialised literature into consideration, one of the ultimate aims of this scenario should be to strengthen the university-industry relationship in terms of timescales. Personal relationships and mutual understanding are the keys to achieving this objective, and generally, although it is the larger companies which more often resort to these practices and seek to form partnerships with leading Universities which excel in specific areas of interest, SMEs are obviously not excluded from this type of collaboration.

There are several ways to initiate a stable partnership. One is to reach a series of agreements to develop different projects by working with universities with which companies have already had successful previous experiences, and another is to develop a strategy of long-term collaboration with interactive teams.

Thus, in order to establish a good long-term university-industry relationship it is necessary to be aware of the needs, objectives and concerns of the other party. In this sense it is important to increase informal contacts and dialogue whilst developing collaborative strategies. Interests of both parties must be aligned in order to reach an agreement on goals and achieve a common and innovative vision whilst defining an equal partnership strategy which promotes direct contact between participants, and establishes open and transparent communication processes with a common language which permits mutual understanding. It is also of fundamental importance to recognise that collaboration is a cross-disciplinary activity in which the skills of both parties can create useful synergies.


The Human Genome Project

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international scientific research project aimed at determining the sequence of chemical base pairs which make up DNA whilst identifying and mapping the approximately 20,000-25,000 genes of the human genome from both a physical and functional perspective. It involved a collaborative strategy for long-term collaboration between dynamic teams from Companies and Universities.

The $90 billion project was founded in 1990 by the US Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health, under the direction of James D. Watson, and was expected to be completed in 15 years. Thanks to broad international collaboration and the advances in genomics and computer technology, an initial draft of the genome was completed in 2000 (and was announced jointly by former President Bill Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on June 26, 2000). The entire genome was finally presented in April 2003, two years earlier than expected.

Hewlett Packard

The US multinational coordinates numerous collaborative research projects with scientists, entrepreneurs, governments and businesses throughout the world which allows them to maximise the impact of joint research results. The company has a global team which is fully interconnected through innovative programmes such as the Technology Innovation Programme, which offers Universities all around the world the opportunity to participate in joint research projects with leading scientists from HP Labs on a competitive basis, and the Scholarship Programme, which provides students with a one-year internship in leading HP labs.

Implementation process

Agents required for implementation

This recommendation can be implemented by a single Company or various Companies although Universities can also play an important role in ensuring that a more long-lasting relationship between both parties develops.

View explanatory caption


  1. Siege. D et al 2003; Borrell Damian L, 2009, IBM response to the Lambert, review on Bussiness University Collaboration Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).
  2. Guiding Principles for University- Industry Endeavors, National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA), Industrial Research Institute (IRI).
  3. IBM response to the Lambert, review on Business-University Collaboration.
  4. Responsible partnering: A guide to better practices for collaborative research between science and industry. EIRMA, EUA, EARTO, PRO TON. Handbook for responsible partnering.