Software Testing Alliance
The objective of the Software Testing Innovation Alliance is to bring together key actors in Spain on software testing in order to work together to improve innovation support and technology transfer from universities to companies in the area of software testing. This way we want to solve software testing problems, tackle challenges and remove barriers. The goal is to do this by executing micro projects based on mutual needs that induce small-step change that has impact in research, in practice, in business or in education. The final results being better software quality.
Development of the Alliance
After its launch in June 2015, the Spanish Software Testing Innovation Alliance has organized 4 successful events in 4 different regions in Spain: Valencia, Andalusia, Aragon and the Basque country. During these events, Spanish academia and industry are brought together to brainstorm and discuss how cooperation can improve innovation in software testing in Spain. Universities can elevator-pitch their R\&D results on software testing indicating: what they have, how it can help companies and who has already used it successfully. SMEs on the other hand get a short time slot to explain their current practice on software testing and the problems, challenges and needs they have. After the presentations, speed-dating sessions re done such that every university representative meets up with each SME present.
In Salamanca, the results of the Spanish alliance have been presented. The 18th of November the first European Software Testing Innovation Alliance will take place in Amsterdam following the same successful format.
The Software Testing Innovation Alliance concentrates on: micro projects based on mutual needs that induce small-step change that has impact in research, in practice, in business or in education.
One of the success factors has been to concentrate on: Small-step change:
We do not pretend to have a silver bullet, nor to finally close the gap between industry and university. During and through the meetings, we aim to detect the opportunity to do a micro (or even pico) initiatives that can start the the collaboration and technology transfer immediately. Universities get the opportunity to evaluate their results in practice and companies get to try out something that might help them solve a problem or improve testing!
This pragmatic approach results in small projects being are executed immediately within the context of the SHIP project. Consequently, barriers of looking for pre-financing are overcome and a short project is immediately executed to show the company whether the research results are worth anything to their practices or not. Then after this the company can better decide whether continuing with this university collaboration is something they would be willing to pay for.
During the 4 meetings we have compiled a list containing 15 micro-initiatives between 3 Spanish universities (Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, Universidad de Oviedo y Universidad de Sevilla) and 8 Spanish SMEs, 1 Spanish large company and 1 Dutch large company.
Another success factor has been to focus on any type of impact. The good news about this approach is that whatever happens we can count on impact. If we successfully transfer en university R&D results to a company, we have practice impact and even after a while business impact because quality of software products in the companies might have improved because of the improved testing processes. For the universities a successful transfer gives data that can be used to persuade others that he solution is worth trying. Even if the transfer is not successful and it cannot be used in the company or does not show to improve anything, we still have impact on research. Researchers have learned from the experience and might have more insight in: which parts of their solutions need more working; what directions need their research effort go to solve the problems or challenges encountered in the transfer. Finally, establishing contacts with companies interested in trying out the prototype tools of the universities, we have the chance to create interesting industrial projects for students (for example when needing to write their master thesis). This created impact in education.
The main challenge of the Software Testing Innovation Alliance is the problem of increasing fragmentation in the field of promotion of academic software testing innovation results, especially the dislocation between those who generate knowledge that could spur innovation (universities), and those who can translate that knowledge into marketable strategies and use it to produce economic growth (companies). The so-called notorious gap between university and industry. Few if any would dispute that successful transfer from academic results into industry is important. On the one hand, academic research activities should be guided more towards the challenges companies face and solutions to their immediate problems. On the other hand, industrialist should help academics to validated their research results within a real industrial context.
Academia and industry obviously need each other and collaboration should be improved. For decades, many regional, national and international initiatives exists to try to close the gap. However, in the current days, successful collaboration still seems to be difficult to achieve and success stories are still something rare instead of something normal. We keep talking about the gap with industry on one side and academia on the other. But we seem to be unable to even narrow it. The Software Testing Innovation Alliance will take on this challenge in the area of testing.
Main Outcomes and Impact
After its launch in June 2015, the Spanish Software Testing Innovation Alliance has organized 4 successful events in 4 different regions in Spain: Valencia, Andalusia, Aragon and Basque country. During the 4 meetings we have compiled a list containing 15 micro-initiatives between 3 Spanish universities (Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, Universidad de Oviedo y Universidad de Sevilla) and 8 Spanish SMEs, 1 Spanish large company and 1 Dutch large company. 7 of these initiatives have finished executing during the life-time of the SHIP project, the the remaining 8 are in a very initial planning phase.
We organised a final event in Salamanca at the most prominet Spanish conference of software engineering (JISB).
The alliance is led by:
Key success factors:
- Mutual needs
- Small step change
- Focus on any type of impact
- Increasing fragmentation in the field of promotion of academic software testing innovation results
- The so-called notorious gap between university and industry
Key benefits for stakeholders:
- Successful collaborations between university and companies.
- Impact in software quality through transferred results.
- Sustainable alliance that has gone European wide.