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The report entitled “Future of University-Business Cooperation: Research, Policy, Practice” released last week suggested ‘more work needs to be done’ to reach the desired advancement in the policy, practice, and research priorities identified by a diverse group of European and Australian UBC stakeholders.
The multi-method study presented in the report aimed to investigate future directions for UBC, drawing from over 1000 responses by groups of HEI managers, academics, technology transfer professionals and businesses based in Europe and Australia. Executed in two steps (i) identification of priorities and (ii) assessment of future importance vs. current performance in UBC, the study has generated a line of insights for the stakeholders looking towards the future of UBC.
The two-steps process
The qualitative first phase of the study included a survey with three open-ended questions inquiring the priorities of the stakeholders for the future of the UBC. The nature of the questions allowed participants of all groups to make their voices heard, particularly of the practitioner experts, who represented 43% of all participants. The analysis of the data led to the identification of 80 priorities across seven broad categories of priorities for the future advancement of the UBC.
The second phase of the study surveyed HEIs and businesses in 33 European countries, asking the participants to rate these 80 priorities based on their (i) importance for the future, and (ii) current advancement. The findings show that of all future priorities ranked, current advancement lags behind. Specifically, the largest gap between importance and advancement was found in the area of UBC research in regards to priorities “Investigating UBC across different industry sectors and cultural contexts”, “Understanding the impact of UBC on research”, and “Developing innovative business/partnership models for HEI engagement with SME”. The findings also indicate that while the discrepancy is high between the importance and advancement, perceptions across priorities show strong similarities between the two respondent groups.
With its large geographical coverage and substantial amount of participants from diverse groups, the study provides us with a good snapshot of how UBC experts perceive the future of the UBC in the context of Europe and Australia. While the priorities of the stakeholders differ within the triangle of policy, practice, and research, this might also help identify areas for new opportunities to emerge. The findings revealed in the report are therefore expected to start conversations not only within, but also between the groups of stakeholders who have the potential to shape the future of the UBC together.