Factors in Collaborations Between Technology Firms and Universities

Factors in Collaborations Between Technology Firms and Universities

Lazarus Ndiku Makewa (Center for Research Implications and Practice, Kenya)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1029-2.ch002

Abstract

Collaboration between technology firms and universities is a concern that requires an in-depth study. In this chapter, a review was done to investigate factors affecting technology firms and universities. The review underscores several factors that should be considered in the said collaborations. These are institutional factors, relationship factors, output factors, and framework factors. Institutional factors were identified as resources, structure, and willingness to change. Relationship factors were identified as communication, commitment, trust, and culture; output factors were identified as objectives and knowledge and technology transfer; framework factors were listed as environment, contracts and intellectual property rights, and geographical distance. Future research should investigate the relationship between different factors and different phases of a collaboration. Further investigations should be done to look at the effect of collaborations between universities and technology small and medium-sized enterprises.
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Introduction

Collaboration between technology firms and universities has been an increasingly key issue for some time and researchers have devoted considerable effort to finding the determinants of their success (e.g. Hillebrand and Biemans 2003; Parkhe 1993). A different form of collaboration with presumably different success factors is the one between technology firms and universities. These actors have different goals and experience different constraints. This contrast potentially enhances the value of collaboration but it is also a source of complications. Results from the literature on this type of collaboration do not necessarily carry over to this setting. This chapter, will investigate the success factors of collaboration between technology firms and universities.

TFs and university collaborations (TFUCs) have a long by strong tradition in several countries worldwide (Ankrah and AL-Tabbaa 2015) and universities play an important role in achieving economic growth in today’s knowledge-based societies (Pinheiro et al. 2015a). The ambition of policymakers and universities to develop third missions in addition to the two traditional core missions of research and teaching, and to commercialize academic knowledge, for instance through continuing education programs, patenting, technology transfer offices, science parks or incubators has increased the relevance of such collaborations (Marhl and Pausits 2011; Perkmann et al. 2013).

There are many reasons for Technology Firms and university collaborations, for example, companies profit from highly qualified human resources such as researchers or students (Myoken 2013); they gain access to innovation, technology and research (Barnes et al. 2002); and they can use advanced technology infrastructure (Ankrah and AL-Tabbaa 2015). According to some studies, up to 10 per cent of new innovations or processes are based on the contribution of academic research (Bekkers and Bodas Freitas 2008). Universities, in return, benefit from additional funding provided, from access to industry equipment or from licensing or patenting income (Barnes et al. 2002). In fact, collaboration with technology firms has become inseparable with university funding and the funds from international organizations and business enterprises for R&D in the higher education sector nowadays represent a viable source in many countries (OECD 2015).

In light of these effects and financial relevance, it is important to maintain a successful management of TFUCs to realize the advantages on both sides. While the number of research articles has increased in recent years, there is not yet a systematic overview of success factors that emerge from a detailed analysis of individual studies. Most studies do not directly address this question. Case studies, for example, generally only refer to individual lessons learned from collaborations. Recent reviews summarizing the literature have mostly focused on other issues: for example, Perkmann et al. (2013) investigate how academic engagement differs from commercialization (in the sense of the exploitation of patented inventions), Schofield’s (2013) systematic review of the literature is dedicated to success factors in the emerging market context, and while Ankrah and AL-Tabbaa (2015) also briefly discuss success factors, they focus primarily on organizational forms of TFUCs, motivations for TFUCs as well as their formation and operationalization. Therefore, this chapter aims to fill this gap by identifying relevant success factors.

The study question, what factors influence the success of a collaboration between technology firms and universities? Makes this work unique from other reviews and articles, which mostly examine this question casually. The approach in this study allows a more thorough analysis of factors that facilitate or inhibit the TFUCs’ success, which goes beyond existing reviews such as those mentioned above. This chapter adds to a better understanding of TFUC success factors not only by summarizing the evidence on the basis of a rigorous and transparent methodological approach, including the most recent research up to the year 2018.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Output Factors: Having clear aims, planning as realistically as possible, agreeing on responsibilities, specifying the extent of the contribution of each partner and defining roles right at the beginning of collaboration.

Research: The systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.

Collaborations: Working together with a common goal of producing or creating something.

Framework Factors: Raising awareness of current economic, legal, political, or social developments.

Relationship Factors: Referring to communication, commitment and culture in any collaboration.

Cooperation: The process of working together to the same end.

University: An institution of higher learning providing facilities for teaching and research and authorized to grant academic degrees.

Technology: The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.

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