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Oxford-UIDP Summit Report | Developing University-Industry Partnerships Fit for the Future

Countries around the world, not least in the United Kingdom, United States and Europe, wrestle with the question of how to take knowledge generated and developed in their universities and harness it for the good of the economy and humankind through technology transfer and collaboration with global businesses. Many large companies and universities are also striving to find more effective and productive ways of engaging, reflecting the many challenges that have to be overcome to manage partnerships to create and capture value, and the changing global and competitive landscape within which they operate.

Against this backdrop, the University of Oxford and UIDP developed and hosted the inaugural Oxford UIDP Summit, held July 31Aug. 2, 2019. The Oxford-UIDP Summit convened 149 senior leaders and managers from leading universities, companies and governments from the UK, U.S., Europe, and further afield, to identify new and better ways to partner to advance the human condition and key issues that need to be addressed.

Download the report

Much has happened since the close of the Oxford UIDP Summit 2019. The very appeal of the event – gathering 150 people from across the globe in the close confines of an Oxford college to discuss and debate the future of the triple helix partnerships in person – runs counter to these days of social distancing.

Fortunately online technology and the report of the interesting and lively presentations, discussions and conclusions from the Summit drawn together by Tomas Coates-Ulrichson will allow us to continue the conversation and make progress on the challenges we set ourselves.

Here in Oxford we have high hopes that the recent demonstration of triple-helix collaboration between the University, Astra Zeneca, and UK regulators and Government will provide a way out of the current situation and allow us all to meet again. Until then I look forward to hearing your reflections virtually! —Phil Clare, Deputy Director, Research Services (Knowledge Exchange and Engagement), University of Oxford

Oxford-UIDP 2019 strengthened our ties across the university-industry-government triple helix. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the need for strong cross-sector partnerships. Oxford’s ability to rapidly leverage industry and government partnerships to bring not one but two promising vaccines to clinical trial stage substantiates the collaborative model.

We’re excited to share many of the lessons learned—as well as new questions raised—in our ongoing work to support strong, collaborative, cross-sector partnerships. While much progress has been made, the world has changed dramatically since we met face-to-face in Oxford—underscoring the need to continuously invest time and effort to stay ahead of emerging trends and challenges and to spotlight what works and does not as we build effective, valuable partnerships.—Tony Boccanfuso, President, UIDP


This report was developed by Tomas Coates Ulrichsen, University of Cambridge, in collaboration with the Summit sponsors, the University of Oxford and UIDP. Following three intense days of discussion and debate by the Summit delegates in a mix of expert panel sessions and facilitated breakouts, the following areas emerged that were seen as key for the future development of effective and productive university-industry partnerships:

  • The changing landscape for university-industry partnering
  • Strengthening partnership models and key trends at the university-industry interface
  • Moving beyond traditional university-industry partners to capture new opportunities
  • Developing metrics for university-industry partnering
  • Data-informed decisions for partnering and issues of artificial intelligence
  • National R&D targets: helpful or misguided?
  • University-industry partnering and the emerging roles of intermediaries
  • Diversity in university-industry partnering: difference is beautiful
  • Delivering a pipeline of talent and increased people mobility
  • Reconnecting with the public on the value of research

Throughout the many sessions, delegates emphasized the benefits of encouraging diversity – in all its many forms, gender and sexuality, ethnicity and disability – in university-industry partnering activities. The discussions reinforced the growing body of evidence that shows that more diverse teams lead to more creativity, bringing broader views, experiences and perspectives to talking problems, and ultimately leads to improved outcomes. Furthermore, diversity was encouraged in terms of reaching out more proactively to those parts of universities that have historically been less involved in partnering in the social sciences and humanities. There is growing recognition of the significant value teams with a diverse range of people involved can add to many university-industry partnerships.

Download the report for further discussion of the key insights and issues emerging from the Summit in each of these areas.

UIDP is grateful to Phil Clare, deputy director of research services at the University of Oxford, and to his staff for their significant contribution to both the symposium and report. We would also like to thank Sir Mark Walport, chief executive, UKRI, and Walter G. Copan, under secretary of commerce for standards and technology and director, National Institute of Standards and Technology, for their active participation and assistance.

Related Resources

See the summit presentations and materials.

Access the other Future of Work event materials here.