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Communication Pros Kick Off New UIDP Project in Chicago

University-Industry (U-I) engagement is vital to a nation’s competitiveness and, when it comes to sharing stories of collaborative partnerships and research projects, there are many factors to consider with both strategic and practical implications for those involved.

In mid-June, the UIDP kicked off a new UIDP project to examine the communication of U-I collaborations [members-only firewall] with an in-person working group meeting hosted by the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC).

Many UIDP member reps have expressed significant interest in raising awareness and understanding – among the researchers with whom they work, as well within their organizations more broadly – about what to consider when it comes to communicating U-I partnerships and the results that emanate from these collaborations. In order to mitigate risks, protect reputations and strengthen an organization’s ability to collaborate and compete, it’s critical to ensure the stories of these partnerships are effectively and appropriately shared.

Our working-group-meeting participants came from a wide variety of backgrounds: many are seasoned communication and journalism professionals working in industry and academia or those who play a pivotal role in managing research relationships and strategic partnerships within their organizations. We also had member reps who were unable to participate in person, but who contributed content in advance of the meeting, which speaks to member-rep interest in the subject matter.

The specific objective of meeting was to gather content for the first-phase deliverable of the project: a practical quick guide to help researchers understand what to think about when it comes to communicating – within their organizations and to external audiences – about the work they do.

Our meeting agenda was designed to get participants talking about the specific challenges they face in communicating about U-I collaborations and to build shared understanding of university and industry perspectives, practices and processes for communicating these stories. Project leads Elise Carbonaro (University of Maryland), Amanda Holdsworth (University of Michigan) and Brea Hutchcraft-May (Monsanto) facilitated many of the breakouts.

We discussed strategic issues for the organizations involved, from legal and contractual considerations, to risk and brand management. Groups worked together to define typical review and approval processes for industry versus university members when it comes to content about collaborations. And we also looked at a variety of relevant tactics and strategies, including issuing new releases; pitching media; presenting at conferences; sharing information within organizations (internal communication); and using social media.

The meeting was intense, with a great mix of people, all of whom willingly shared their experience and insight on the many topics, issues and questions we raised as a group. We’ve begun work on the draft and our target is to submit the content for this quick guide into the 60-day review period before UIDP23 this fall.  Thanks again to UIC, who hosted us in the university’s Innovation Center, and to Jacquie Berger (UIC) for the significant role she played working with UIDP to coordinate the meeting.

Learn more about UIDP’s Project portfolio here. If you’re a UIDP member rep, log into the Member’s Only Area in order to access specific project pages with many more details. If you are interested in being involved in any of UIDP’s projects, email us at