The natural tendency in is often to avoid sharing your strategic vision and internal data, particularly when development of a new technology is involved. Yet while this secrecy protects the business against potential information leaks, it also poses a threat for successful UPC Partnerships. Understanding your partner as an important part of the operational team, sharing strategic context with them maximises their practical impact. In addition to that, it is very unlikely that a researcher who sign a non-disclosure agreement and is interested in further development of the UB partnership will leak strategic vision of the company to its competitors.
While there is still no clear evidence whether face-to-face meetings are considerably more useful than well-organised virtual meetings, it has been established that a clear and regular communication routine is a must. Therefore, regardless of the chosen communication form, everyone involved must share the understanding of how communication will take place and the communication has to be regular. Half of the cases analysed within the UBC project indicate the importance of clear and regular communication as a factor leading to successful cooperation.
Building personal networks
Neither businesses, nor universities tend to invest time and effort into choosing new partners for every UBC project. The natural tendency is to first consider partners from previously successful projects and eventually build long-term strategic relationships. Even though the decisions about long-term strategic partnerships are business-driven, personal relationships play an important role in securing the initial pipeline of potential partners that is then being considered. UBC partnership should be based on a vision rooted in strategic priorities of both partners that must then be translated into partnership strategy. Sufficient high-level information exchange is imperative to accomplish this. Even if a UBC partnership is currently for a short period of time, regular high-level information exchange about possible common strategic interests enhances the likelihood of success.
Focus on your strengths
Do not try to cover every possible knowledge area. Instead, it is important to strive for a UBC framework where universities specialise and excel in their strengths, while businesses choose the right combination of universities, each strong at particular aspects, for UBC projects. Most R&D and, to an even greater extent, commercialisation cases demonstrate the value that deep knowledge and excellence in particular area brings to UBC partnerships. Instead of developing rivalry competences, universities can form clusters, establish networks and develop referral mechanisms to direct businesses to the most fitting university.
Informal meetings are important to productive collaborations. The importance of informal gatherings as a catalyst for productive collaborations between researchers and business employees at operational level is becoming more and more recognised. Informal gatherings and information exchanges such as seminars, workshops or lectures with subsequent provisions for networking have proven to be fruitful catalysts for cross-fertilising ideas and valuable partnerships. Business representatives attending technology gatherings and scientists attending business conferences is another trend in fruitful UBC.
Prepare a one-pager for your project idea before searching for partners
You need to understand that finding the right partner for a project needs commitment from both sides. You need to convince the university partner to actively share your vision for your project idea. Consider this as a kind of pitch – such as pitching for investors for your business. It serves as an executive summary for the decision makers inside the university.
Short overview: Describe your project idea in short words, including the problem your are facing and the solution you want to develop
Milestones: Milestones you have completed so far and important milestones that structure the framework of the project
Team and Competences: Describe your team and their competences with regards to R&D Development and the respective project
Current level of research: What is the current level of research in the respective field? What are the solutions of your competitors?
Financials and next steps: Do you have a specific funding program in mind? What are the next steps that need to be taken (Deadlines?)