Co-location: Exploring how to take Industry-Academic Partnerships one step further

Siobhan Dennis
University of Oxford

LinkedIn profile

The Business Development and Partnering team at Oxford University aids the establishment and long-term sustainability of strategic research alliances between industry and academia. Our team supports a range of activities including; a concierge service to connect academics and industry partners, provide a single point of contact to navigate project development, contracting and implementation, help shaping industry sponsored fellowship schemes, provision of alliance management for larger strategic collaborations, running an Experts in Residence scheme and various events including Academic Industry (AIMday) networking days.

An additional function of our team is to support the co-location of Industry partners onto campus space. The presence of industry staff on a university campus or even in an existing university building is becoming increasingly commonplace. This workshop will consider larger scale co-location activities from 5-500 industry staff for 6 months or more located physically on campus space, or in a university building rather than concentrating on visiting professors or short-term staff placements.

This workshop will begin by exploring what co-location could look like for you and what you might wish to achieve from this level of interaction. This is also an opportunity to share your experiences with co-location to kick-start discussions. The workshop will then go on to look at the possible benefits of co-location (to both parties) and consider concerns and issues that the group may have and look to how we may resolve these.

The strategic alliance between Oxford University and Novo Nordisk will be presented as a case study to demonstrate how this process has worked, lessons learned and what future it is hoped this co-location will achieve. In 2017 Novo Nordisk launched the NNRCO located on Old Road Campus and formed a strategic alliance with Oxford University with the aim to establish landmark collaborations for the advancement of type II diabetes research. This alliance built upon a longstanding relationship between the two institutes from an existing established Novo Nordisk sponsored fellowship scheme. The NNRCO is an innovative academic-industry hybrid institute, with a focus on diabetes and metabolism research in the pre-competitive space. By 2021, it is hoped that up to 100 scientists will work in the newly built labs. The alliance is governed by a joint steering committee and supported by dedicated alliance managers from both institutions. This has helped considerably to develop the relationship and collaborative environment. Pump priming funds have been made available to kick start collaborative projects of joint interest and enhance co-location opportunities.

This workshop will run in small teams to allow for exchange of ideas and an opportunity to learn from the collective experience of those attending. It is important not to feel that experience in co-location between industry and academia is required to participate and views from large industries, SMEs, academics, university support staff and service providers will add greatly to the diversity of discussion.