4 - Services, advice and consultancy

4.2 - Creating specific Industry – University collaboration programmes


The generation of specific University-Business collaboration programmes are of mutual benefit. They offer universities long-term stable financial and strategic support for their research activities, whereas companies have access to the series of tailor-made services which the academic world can provide.

In general, the academic world is far from simple for companies to deal with. Issues such as identifying the necessary experts, generating interest in professors for business-oriented research, finding the most suitable programmes and organising effective interaction are not easy to solve. Therefore it is necessary to find mechanisms which can encourage initiatives for research projects aimed at business.

Given the situation, what is required are specific programmes which can act as bridges between Universities and Businesses, creating understanding and mutual interest between the two parties.


Industrial Liaison Program (MIT, EEUU)

One successful example of this recommendation is the Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This programme is one of the cornerstones of University-Business collaboration in the institute.

The ILP was set up in 1948, with the clear aim of creating and strengthening mutually beneficial relationships between MIT and corporations throughout the world. The effectiveness of its working processes and strategies has led to it generating 38% of total business donations to the MIT and it now has over two hundred member companies which support the research being carried out by MIT and its corporate partners. Each company is provided with support services which are especially tailored to its requirements.

In 2010, costs for R&D&i at the MIT reached $627 million, $238 million of which come from collaboration projects with Businesses.

Within the ILP there are different degrees and levels of association. Once a company or institution becomes a member, it is assigned an MIT contact person (Liaison Officer). These contacts have extensive knowledge of the business sectors they represent, as well as the professors, activities and current lines of research at the MIT. They also make every effort to meet the strategic and research requirements of the different clients, so as to initiate, integrate and better manage their interactions with the MIT.

Activities managed by ILP for its members include:

  1. Personal meetings with researchers, professors and students. Their key aim is to provide firsthand knowledge about the latest technological developments, emerging innovations, best practices, and talented personnel, whilst discussing possible research projects, or solving specific problems.
  2. Working sessions and conferences with the MIT faculty. These are developed with the idea of examining issues which are external to the activities of the company, whilst exploring disruptive or emerging technology, or providing additional sources of information and alternative strategies which could aid the organisation and management of the company.
  3. Faculty visits to the company. These activities focus on areas of mutual interest for both the researcher and the company.
  4. Operating as a link to encourage collaboration between teaching staff and companies. Researchers working at MIT are given total freedom in terms of whether or not they accept the projects proposed by companies. The ILP plays a key role in linking the interests of each of the parties. It also informs its members about new professors or lines of investigation.
  5. Offering help in the recruitment of students.
  6. Identifying opportunities for executive training.
  7. Facilitating access to the general activities organised by the ILP, such as themed conferences, and access to both the MIT database and the organisation’s Intranet, which contains videos, publications and news about the latest research work.

The ILP seeks to establish a conscientious approach in terms of its relationship with companies looking for long-term collaborations in which information exchange takes place frequently from a broad point of view. It uses all the resources it has available to encourage companies to identify complex tasks whilst collaborating successfully with researchers.

Implementation process

Agents required for implementation

This recommendation can be implemented by a joint collaboration with the University.

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  1. Interview with staff from the ILP.
  2. http://ilp.mit.edu/ - Industrial Liason Program del Massachussets Institute of Technology.