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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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 liaisons and faculty/staff.
Historically, university-industry interactions have been led by individual faculty members or unit staff and were focused on a specific transactional activity. For example, faculty members work directly with companies on a collaborative research project, technology transfer staff work directly with companies to commercialize university-developed intellectual property, and career centers work directly with companies to connect students to future employers. These disparate transactional activities may be with the same companies but were generally not coordinated across campus.

Increasingly, universities have transitioned to more holistic engagement strategies that attempt to grow relationships from transactional engagement to 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 collaborations. These industry liaisons can be situated within various organizational structures at a university including within institutional service units like technology transfer or endowment offices, within academic units, or even within university administration. Faculty members remain a critically important component of university-industry partnerships, so universities have simultaneously developed programming to help faculty develop the skill-sets to more 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, endowment, university liaison offices)
 How the positioning of industry liaisons affects U-I interactions
 Prioritizing partners & tiering partnerships
 Balancing the solicitation of new relationships vs. expanding existing relationships
 How liaisons should spend their time
 How liaisons can transition partnerships from transactional to strategic
 Rewarding and recognizing staff
o The unique skill-sets of boundary spanners/industry liaisons
 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
 Determining the return
• 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 & Zane Starkewolfe, University of California, Davis
Cameron McCoy, Lehigh University
Jacyl Shaw, GHD
Rebecca Robinson, Kansas State University
Kent Glasscock, Kansas State University