Academic-Industry Collaboration Best Practices: Corporate Innovation

Meaningful innovation requires us to tap into the distribution of knowledge—among our company and our consumer base. But why stop there? The benefits of partnering with an academic institution go far beyond theoretical-level collaboration. So let's explore those benefits and guide innovation leaders through a few academic-industry collaboration best practices.

Why Do Companies Collaborate With Universities?

We believe in using the Golden Circle Method around here, so we'll start with why you should even consider academic-industry collaboration best practices. Typically, any question that begins with "why do companies" can be answered with "because it's profitable." In a roundabout way, this is true. But let's examine where this profitability stems from.


A Competitive Edge 

Today’s market is saturated more than ever before, which actually isn't all bad. It means that innovation is at an all-time high! Either that or people have gotten really good at money laundering schemes. Either way, businesses need to think outside the box to keep up with this unprecedented level of competition. Academic-industry collaboration provides your company with unique advantages like access to pertinent data and expert-level research methods. 


Networking Opportunities

The face of networking has changed immensely over the last few years, COVID-19 being partially to blame. Although many people have resumed regular life, the networking scene will never be the same again. Facilitating a relationship with an academic-industry opens the door to networking opportunities outside of your bubble. Not only will awareness for your company grow, but you’ll also have the chance to collaborate with the industry’s next generation of experts. 


Better Brand Reputation

Cultivating a positive brand image is essential for companies prioritizing innovation. Studies show that consumers and investors prioritize companies that align with their moral values (or, at the very least, ESG standards). Academic-industry collaboration provides opportunities for your business to engage with the community in a meaningful way. Not to mention, partnering with educational institutions shows that your company has credible expertise.


Academic-Industry Collaboration Best Practices 

Breaking into the academic industry scene can be intimidating. To ensure the success of your efforts, you’ll need a solid execution plan. Every industry is different, and so will be their means of collaboration. Nevertheless, we’ve managed to create a universally-applicable process for securing the best partnership for your organization. Would you mind holding your applause until the end of the presentation? 


Create a Partner Profile

Creating a partner profile will be similar to how your company created its buyer persona. You’ll need to identify and anticipate the needs of your potential partner. However, you’ll need to examine your business goals first. Determine the core competencies your company is looking for in a partnership. 

For example, do you need access to specific technology or research? Once you’ve created an ideal partner, try to match your needs with the needs of institutions that most closely fit your description. What does your company have to offer in exchange for your ask?


Craft an Attractive Proposition 

Now it’s time to put your partner profile research to the test. Academic industry collaboration best practices should benefit the institution and the company. Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of potential benefits an institution could gain from partnering with your business:

  • Increased visibility into university research
  • Funding
  • Ability to test and publicize real-world applications of academic studies 
  • Networking opportunities for rising professionals

The best way to approach academic-industry collaboration is to treat it as a mutually beneficial partnership. Make sure to incentivize your proposed collaboration by outlining the ways your open innovation will benefit both parties. Align your motives with the institution's motives so that together, you’ll be motivated to work towards a common goal.



Knowing where to look for potential partners is the first challenge many innovation leaders will encounter. Of course, you can start within your existing network. But as your innovation efforts become more successful and your company grows, you’ll need to branch out. Professional networking platforms like LinkedIn (dare you to click that link) can be valuable resources, but a comprehensive search may yield more fruitful results. For example, you may conduct a patent search or attend conventions in your field, or perhaps reach out to universities directly. 


Support Your Collaborative Innovation Efforts With rready

rready specializes in innovation management techniques—from employee engagement to academic-industry collaboration best practices. Innovation leaders know that successful collaboration (and therefore, innovation) takes more than commitment and consultations. In addition to coaching employees through the innovation pipeline, we provide the tools necessary to organize ideas, collect feedback, and track project progress.


When you’re rready to elevate your innovation efforts, contact our experts or book your free demo.

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