The coexistence of theoretical knowledge and practical application can be a mutual benefit regarding collaborations, technology transfers, and intellectual property (IP). Considering the utmost importance of patents, licensing, and startup companies, universities should conduct basic research, while commercializing their IP. Managing the barriers between industry and academia collaborations requires a multi-pronged approach.

Problems Faced During the Industry and Academia Collaboration

This collaboration can be quite tricky, but not impossible. There should be a perfect balance between theoretical and practical knowledge to achieve common goals. Some of the prominent hindrances faced during this collaboration are –

  1. Higher education institutions (HEIs) primarily focus on educating students with theoretical knowledge and conducting research. On the other hand, industries rely on profits and practical applications that lead to innovation. It would be difficult for them to invest in theoretical ideas that are unsure of driving sales. At the same time, institutions can’t operate properly with short-term goals. A fair resolution of such complexity involves flexibility and open conversation where theoretical and practical applications can coexist.
  2. The collaboration of institutions and industries involves cultural differences. Any research conducted by industries will predominantly be based on the practical applicability of solutions in the real world by devising products and improvising the process. However, it will lack theoretical and academic profoundness. Finding a middle path is essential to maintain a fair and steady collaboration, with both parties involved in each other’s requirements as well and working towards it.
  3. There should be a transparent communication channel between HEIs and industries. When collaborating with any company, university researchers should follow the company’s regulatory process and other norms. To ensure that this happens, there should be specific training programs to help researchers understand industry language and operations.
  4. Lastly, there should be trust and mutual agreement between HEIs and the industry for a healthy collaboration. A university professor might be the king of research and academic algorithms, but industries prefer solutions that can be implemented practically and generate profits. It’s recommended to sign an agreeable IP arrangement or a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) between the two so no one can misuse each other’s research. Maintaining confidentiality of sensitive information is important to ensure fair collaboration.

Types of Collaborations

There are two major types of collaborations between universities and industries, which are –

  1. Local manufacturing companies facing technical faults can collaborate with institutions equipped with minimal research facilities, and they can together work on short-term goals. College students can give solutions that can benefit the company and generate greater ROI in the university.
  2. Students belonging to universities equipped with high research facilities can collaborate with large-scale companies to fulfill long-term goals. Such long-term collaborations also allow students to work as company interns and gain practical knowledge of work, of work, timely deliveries, and navigating failures.

The government should also fund joint projects involving HEIs and industries participation. Universities of specific domains should collaborate with industries serving those domains.

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