1 - Fostering collaboration between Universities and Business

1.8 - Promoting dialogue between Universities and Companies in the field of knowledge transfer


In the Knowledge Society Universities play a central role in three key ways. Firstly, as producers of knowledge through R&D activities; secondly, as transmitters of knowledge, through training and publication of results; and finally, through the transfer of knowledge. The most advanced economies are those which have managed to build a stable relationship between scientific knowledge and its application to goods and services across industry as a whole. This scenario must however be accompanied by a strong commitment from all the stakeholders involved, including the Administration.


Karlsruhe (Germany)

The work of German Universities is highly valued among Companies. Academic institutions are extremely receptive and flexible in their collaboration and this can be seen in the fact that they facilitate ease of access and contact with Companies. An interesting example of this is the idea of sharing a laboratory in exchange for returns generated by Intellectual Property.

Some of the features which enable better University - Company collaboration (in the region of Karlsruhe) are:

  • A strong orientation towards licensing and the creation of spinoffs.
  • An innovation model which is clearly oriented towards product commercialisation.
  • Creation of joint research groups.

Styria (Graz, Austria)

In Austria the best example can be found in the region of Styria (Graz), where collaboration between the University and Business plays a pivotal role in regional economic development. The Government, the academic world and Companies all promote collaboration from various different perspectives. In terms of the administrative framework, there is the Universities Act of 1975, amended in 1987, which allows research centres to collaborate on business projects. In 2002, another law concerning Universities was passed which established new forms of intellectual property management. This law also promotes public financing opportunities such as grants to a broad range of projects, whilst encouraging the involvement of NGOs and public bodies as research partners. Factors which promote collaboration with Universities include the presence of specialised scientists and teachers who have previous experience in the private sector or resources to manage projects. These factors are reinforced by a well-established scientific-technological infrastructure and support services.

Lastly, there are a number of other factors in the region including: the high density of innovative businesses; the level of demand for R&D services; spatial proximity, which is enhanced by limited movement of students and professors; and the tendency to contract external R&D.

Furthermore, it is important to draw attention to the studies published by the Graz Technische Universitat (TU) which includes various papers which are voluntarily provided by researchers from both private Companies and Universities. Amongst the former there is a notable willingness to embark on projects as rapidly as possible and to be able to collaborate with particularly gifted students. The university researchers meanwhile participate to the maximum in articles and frequently give their names to work which is being carried out or which has positive results for the research centre.

Implementation process

Agents required for implementation

These activities require close collaboration between all three parties, although some of the ideas could be implemented individually by any of the actors.

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  1. http://www.kit.edu/ - Karlsruher Institut für Technologie.
  2. http://www.tugraz.at/ - Graz University of Technology.