How to successful manage Collaborative University-Industry R&D Funded Programs: The case of BOSCH-Uminho Partnerships

Eduardo B. Pinto
Universidade do Minho / CCG

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Gabriela Fernandes
Universidade do Minho

Antonio Amaral
Universidade do Minho

Aim: This paper describes a successful application of the PgPM methadology on managing a Collaborative University-Industry R&D Funded Programs between the University of Minho (UMinho) and BOSCH Car Multimedia Portugal (BOSCH), named – HMIExcel and Innovative CAR HMI (IC-HMI).
While the literature provides some advice on managing programs and projects, the specific context of university-industry R&D collaboration is being scarcely reported, demanding a strong research effort to produce effective guidelines. IC-HMI program embraced an investment of 54.7 M€ and involved around 500 people during three years (2015-2018). IC-HMI is considered a successful program for several reasons, namely by the decision of UMinho and BOSCH partners to develop a next R&D collaborative program from 2018 to 2021 The success of the IC-HMI program was partially due to the program and project management practices adopted.
Results and Implications: The findings reported are based on a case study–IC-HMI. Unstructured focus groups were led by the authors with six program and project management officers, the program manager and two project managers from IC-HMI.
The focus groups resulted in the identification of the key practices to manage the successful university-industry collaborative funded program – IC-HMI. The key PM practices are present, without any particular order of importance, by the different phases of the programme management life cycle adopted: Program Preparation, Program Initiation, Program Benefits Delivery, Program Closure (Fernandes et al., 2015).
Across all programme phases it was identified a set of practices that contributed to continuous engagement of university researchers and industry collaborators, with distinct expectations, experiences and mind-sets. For example, it was ensured the commitment of both project idea leaders, from UMinho and BOSCH, with the content of the Application for public funding. Continuous engagement of university researchers and industry collaborators is of the utmost importance in all program phases (D’Este and Perkmann, 2011), however the most effort spent is during the Programme Preparation phase and the Programme Initiation phase.
Program Preparation
1. Develop, in close collaboration, a document detailing the problem, objectives and potential solution of each initial project idea, which will be main input to the funding application.
2. Allocate project idea leaders with technical competences in domain of the project scope but also with project management competences.
Program Initiation
3. Create one Programme and Project Management Office (PgPMO) or similar structure.
4. Establish a programme governance model. For example, inclusion of one representative from University and one from Industry in every structure of the programme organization.
5. Develop a Project Charter for each project.
6. Develop a kick-off meeting for each project involving the entire project team and the program coordination
Program Benefits Delivery
7. Program and project stakeholders' engagement to the university-industry partnership.
8. Produce regular project progress meetings, in order to support the reporting of the program progress as a whole, namely through program cockpit char.
9. Conduct regularly workplace meetings.
10. Conduct events of dissemination and knowledge sharing.
11. Manage regularly the project’s risks and issues.
12. Maintain the stability of the R&D PM team. Retain of new young researchers, specially contracted for the programme, during the whole programme life-cycle.
Program Closure
13. Promote the industrialization of the programme results.
14. Conduct a project closure meeting for each project.
15. Conduct a workshop to systematize the lessons learned collect throughout the whole program.

Conclusions: This presentation presents aims to make contributions to practice by sharing the key programme and project management practices adopted in a successful programme to address the collaborations challenges to all academics and professionals that are involved in such initiatives. The key practices identified, cover the whole programme management life-cycle. These practices adopted partially contributed to the IC-HMI success.
People play the central role on managing such initiatives, and the IC.HMI case study shows main aspects that should be given emphasis on. Further research will be conducted to understand how can program and PM effectively support the sustainability of university-industry partnerships.