Translators and Change Agents: The Role of Human Capital in Advancing University-Industry Interactions

Dushyant Pathak
University of California, Davis


Zane Starkewolfe
University of California, Davis

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Cameron McCoy
Lehigh University

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Rebecca Robinson
Kansas State Univerity Institute for Commercialization

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Abstract
This panel will highlight the strategies and perspectives of three universities in addressing the talent needed to enhance the effectiveness of university-industry collaborations. The discussion topics covered during this panel will include two important sets of people within U-I interaction: industry engagement officers and faculty/staff.

Historically, university-industry engagement was initiated by individual faculty members or administrative staff and typically focused on specific transactions. For example, faculty members worked directly with companies on a collaborative research project in conjunction with sponsored research staff, technology transfer personnel worked directly with companies to license university-developed intellectual property, development officers worked directly with companies to facilitate corporate gifts/philanthropy, and career centers worked directly with companies to connect students to future employers. These disparate transactional activities may have been with the same company but were generally not coordinated across campus.

Increasingly, forward-looking universities have transitioned to more holistic engagement strategies that attempt to grow relationships beyond transactional engagement to more strategic partnerships. Universities have invested in resources, largely human capital, to facilitate this transition. These staff members serve as "translators" for both the university and industry, helping to create shared understanding that can result in fruitful and long-lasting collaborations. These industry liaison offices can be situated within various organizational structures at a university including within institutional service units like technology transfer or endowment/foundation/development/advancement offices (i.e. administrative offices that solicit philanthropic contributions), or within academic units, or sometimes in all of these. Faculty members remain an essential component of university-industry partnerships, so more forward-looking universities have simultaneously developed programming to help faculty develop the skillsets to establish more effective and robust university-industry interactions. This session will dive into the strategies and perspectives of three universities who have successfully advanced university-industry interactions within their institutions.

• The role of the people focused on growing university/industry collaboration:
o The roles and responsibilities of institutional services offices (i.e. technology transfer offices, development offices, industry engagement offices)
 How the positioning of industry engagement offices affects U-I interactions
 Prioritizing partners & tiering partnerships
 Balancing the solicitation of new relationships vs. expanding existing relationships
 How industry engagement offices should spend their time
 How industry engagement offices can transition partnerships from transactional to strategic
 Rewarding and recognizing staff
o The unique skillsets of boundary spanners/industry engagement officers
 Hiring the right type of people
 Success factors
 Capabilities
 Training for boundary spanners
o The role of university administration in establishing a culture for U-I interaction
 Creating institutional buy-in
 Setting the tone/expectation for industry interaction
 Identifying process and impact metrics and determining the return o investment
• Enhancing faculty relationships with companies:
o The role of faculty:
 Training for faculty
 Various types of engagement:
 Roles in university startups as the vehicle of engagement with companies
 Establishing and maintaining industry research partnerships
o How we leverage and enhance faculty relationships that are often the beginning of and lynchpin for U-I interaction
 Building trust & shared strategies
 Establishing roles

Presenters will include:
Dushyant Pathak, University of California, Davis
Zane Starkewolfe, University of California, Davis
Cameron McCoy, Lehigh University
Rebecca Robinson, Kansas State University
Kent Glasscock, Kansas State University
Jacyl Shaw, GHD