Project Survey | Joint Solicitations: Industry Participation in Government Investments in Academic Research
Companies and universities have a longstanding history of working collaboratively on precompetitive research, and there are various mechanisms for companies and universities to partner. In many countries, government plays an active role in catalyzing these activities by directly or indirectly funding university-industry research efforts. With increased interest in solving large-scale, global challenges, there is a strong desire to identify approaches that maximize impact from the investments being made by all participating sectors. One approach is jointly funded program solicitations. UIDP is developing a Quick Guide to explore this topic and companies’ willingness to pursue these types of solicitations and the length of their investment on it.
The survey was in the field for a week and received responses from 19 UIDP member companies across a variety of sectors. Of the respondents, the highest representation came from the high-tech sector, followed by aerospace, chemical, and the food and consumer products sector. Other fields included health care, information, and manufacturing. Download the full survey report.
If given the opportunity to contribute to a U.S. federal agency grant and in return, assist in identifying the scope of the grant as well as gaining access to the researchers who are selected, the majority of the respondents (58%) would contribute. The second highest majority of respondents (32%) do not know if they would contribute while the remaining respondents (10%) said they would not contribute.
We asked about the barriers to participating in joint proposals for federal funding. For the majority of respondents (71%), the issue of IP rights–both access to background IP as well as foreground IP—is a major barrier. Buy-in by company leadership, the inability to select research topics, and an arduous selection process are the other major barriers identified. For some companies, most federally funded projects simply do not meet the needs of their business.
All companies stated that they would consider co-funding research focused grants while over half (57%) would also consider co-funding student-focused grants such as a joint PhD fellowship. In terms of total investment, a few companies (38%) would invest up to $250,000 per year, while half would invest between $500,000 to $ 1 million per year, with the remainder willing to invest more than $1 million per year.
Joint solicitations can require a significant time commitment from the company, especially if it becomes a recurring activity. When asked to estimate the time the company would be willing to spend, 75% of respondents would consider funding a recurring grant or providing funding for more than a year. Of these respondents, a majority (83%) are willing to commit up to 3 years while the rest stated 2 years.