Learning co-creation at the university-industry interface

Cynthia Cliff
QUT

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JILLIAN HAMILTON
QUT

KYLIE BIRKINSHAW
QUT

Lyn Griffiths
QUT

Abstract
This practitioner paper represents a first step in broadening scholarly enquiry in the newly emerging field of University-Industry Collaboration (UIC) to encompass learning and teaching co-creation situated at the university-industry interface.
The co-creation processes surrounding inclusion of an immersive and embodied learning experience within the 3-day residential component of the Bridge Program are the subject of this enquiry.
In March 2017, 15 global pharmaceutical companies and the Australian government-funded industry growth centre MTPConnect contracted QUT to develop and deliver the Bridge Program (MTPConnect, 2016). The contract specified:
• THE AIM – to increase gross value added by the industry by increasing the quality and quantity of pharmaceutical commercialization taking place in Australia;
• THE COURSE STRUCTURE - 4 months on-line incorporating company proprietary learning materials; 3-day residential; 2 scholarships for a US head-office visits; various webinars; opening & closing events;
• THE PARTICIPANTS - 100 in 2017 and 100 in 2018; mid-career and representative of all parts of the industry commercialization ecosystem including scientists, lawyers, financiers, tech transfer.
The integration of immersive learning into the 3-day residential was totally outside of the industry-norm and the client’s original vision for the residential: 3 days of high-level didactic delivery by important industry figures from their international head offices. QUT’s suggestion that we “gamify” to promote active participant engagement with the materials presented by the high-level speakers throughout the program initially met with polite skepticism. But, as time went on and planning and roll-out of the residentials progressed each year, a number of tipping points (Gladwell, 2000) were observed as the idea started to take hold, and was then completely taken over by the industry consortium.
WE BECAME CURIOUS ABOUT THESE TIPPING POINTS – WHAT WERE THE LESSONS FOR UNIVERSITY-INDUSTRY COLLABORATION THAT COULD BE DRAWN FROM THEM?
In the absence of an established body of knowledge in relevant aspects of UIC, this project uses insights from across four disciplines to reflect on UIC taking place during the Bridge Program and to identify key learnings to facilitate future industry involvement in learning and teaching at the university-industry interface:
• university-industry collaboration (UIC) (Ankrah & AL-Tabbaa, 2015), (Davey et al., 2018);
• the practice of co-creation(Leclercq, Hammedi, & Poncin, 2016) ;
• embodied and immersive learning(Skulmowski & Rey, 2018); and
• the scholarship learning and teaching (Lingard & Gale, 2010).
An inductive approach using semi-structured key-informant interviews with consortium members provided a range of individual perspectives and first-hand insight into consortium members’ experience and perceptions of factors influencing their attitudes, engagement and inputs at various key points throughout the value co-creation process. A desk audit of meeting notes and minutes facilitated the distillation of key learnings from these experiences and perceptions by cross-referencing them against the project timeline. Five significant and generalizable insights emerged:
1. The surprisingly important and multifaceted role that access to MATCHED GOVERNMENT FUNDING plays in facilitating inter-company collaboration and also in driving industry engagement with education providers;
2. The critical significance of FACE-TO-FACE WORK-SHOPPING to securing and maintaining buy-in from industry collaborators’;
3. The need to ENGAGE WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE IN INDUSTRY; to work both with senior (in both senses of the word) industry influencers and with implementers who work to make it happen; and to ensure that you are working with people whose success is dependent on the success of the program;
4. The advantage of taking a proactive role in TURNING TALK INTO ACTION;
5. The importance of EVALUATION to demonstrate future potential and return on investment.