The impact of university-business collaboration on firm performance and regional development: The case of Mondragon Unibertsitatea's faculty of engineering and the region of Gipuzkoa

Leire Markuerkiaga
Mondragon Unibertsitatea's faculty of engineering

Nekane Errasti
Mondragon Unibertsitatea's faculty of engineering

Maria Vivar
Mondragon Unibertsitatea's faculty of engineering

LinkedIn profile

University-business collaboration are rapidly becoming a common practice on the world over universities (Tumuti et al., 2013), since it is expected to contribute positively to the economic growth and development of regions (Manrique, 2018). Indeed, through this collaboration, on the one hand, universities seek to enhance their relations with external stakeholders and their impacts on innovation and regional development, and, on the other hand, businesses aim to access valuable knowledge and to develop new and/or improved products and processes in order to survive in a global and competitive market.
In the European context, the European Union has recognised the importance of research and innovation for economic growth and social welfare with the introduction of the Horizon 2020 programme (European Commission, 2017), in which the higher education institutions take a key role in innovation and regional development (Charles, 2006). Therefore, governments support and promote university-business collaboration, recognising it as a tool for the balanced and sustainable development of regions. To adapt to this new scenario, the role of universities in societies has evolved from a traditional bidimensional perspective, with education and research as the unique missions, to a wider approach in which universities engage regionally in terms of innovation and regional development (Göransson and Brundenius, 2010). Indeed, universities might enhance their third mission and enhance their impact on industries and on the economics of regions by collaborating with firms, which also leads to a better understanding of work market and commercial world for the improvement of education and research, as well as the dissemination of knowledge (Manrique, 2018).
This research reviews the university-business collaboration topic and considers the case of Mondragon Unibertsitatea's faculty of engineering and the region of Gipuzkoa for exploring how this collaboration is supporting firm performance and regional development. It is a single case study that shows the active role of Mondragon Unibertsitatea's faculty of engineering in terms of university-firm collaboration. Indeed, Mondragon Unibertsitatea's faculty of engineering, because of its history and mission, is born with a social vocation, being destined to fulfill the characteristics of the Entrepreneurial University. It currently has 2,000 students and 200 staff and maintains stable relationships for the development of the dual training of its students, final and master projects, as well as research and transfer activity, with more than 200 companies. %50 of its research activity is financed by companies. In addition, it is part of the Mondragon Corporation (1956), a cooperative business group with a total of 268 companies and more than 73,000 employees.
Therefore, this paper examines the benefits of university-business collaboration in promoting academic growth and community development with a specific focus on Mondragon Unibertsitatea's faculty of engineering. As its case study, the paper explores the partnership between Mondragon Unibertsitatea's faculty of engineering and organisations from Gipuzkoa. In our analyses, we examine the nature and role of collaboration between the partnering institutions and illustrate how such partnerships promote academic and community economic development. Despite a positive impact of Mondragon Unibertsitatea's faculty of engineering -business collaboration on firm performance and Gipuzkoa region development could be assumed, its effect on innovation at firm and regional levels is not clear.