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Done with Dating: Committing to Strategic U-I Partnerships

The context for university-industry (U-I) collaboration is changing. Both universities and companies are evaluating their existing research relationships to identify those with the most potential to develop into longer-term strategic U-I partnerships.

Many U-I collaborations are like dating: you decide to partner short-term to see what each other is like. You do some cool things together, and hopefully, achieve something you’re proud of and that benefits you both.

But, deep down, you know a long-term commitment isn’t in the cards, so you move on and partner with someone else. Something magical happens and you start thinking about taking this relationship to the next level. Both of you want to commit, recognizing you share complimentary goals and values, and the desire for a long-term union.

This is the moment at which to consider whether a strategic U-I partnership really makes sense. So how can the UIDP help?

Fundamental to everything we do at UIDP is a commitment to understanding different perspectives, sharing our insight and experience, and learning from one other. When it comes to resources to help our member reps look at the topic of strategic U-I partnerships in more detail, four specific UIDP products come to mind:

Strategic U-I Partnerships: a UIDP Perspective 

This one-page document from the UIDP Perspectives Series [only available to UIDP member reps] outlines not only some of the benefits of strategic U-I partnerships, but also what to think about when selecting the right partner. It’s not a deep-dive into the subject matter, but a high-level overview of things to consider.

We created the UIDP Perspectives Series as a way to present a high-level look at topical issues facing U-I collaboration. The target audience for this content isn’t our typical UIDP member representative or practitioner in the U-I collaboration space: it’s audiences who are likely not technical experts, who are not involved in U-I relationship management on a regular basis, and/or who might not be familiar with a particular issue. We continue to add to the series regularly. Topics we’ve covered so far include the role of IP in U-I relations; the costs and value of sponsored research; university business advising; and co-location.

The Partnership Continuum

The Partnership Continuum [only available to UIDP member reps] examines and appraises the myriad of ways in which academia and industry can interact for mutual benefit. So often, individual universities and companies are biased toward a particular preferred form of partnership and sometimes blinded to valuable alternative partnership strategies, perhaps out of a lack of awareness of their existence and successful implementation by others. When many organizations are concerned about identifying approaches to partnership development against a backdrop of reduced funding dreamstime_8430546and greater scrutiny on achieving the greatest returns from their partnerships, this document can help you expand current concepts of ‘partnership’ and ways to partner across academia, industry and government. We’ll be unveiling new content for this publication at UIDP22.

Master Research Agreements (MRAs)

We recently released a guide to Master Research Agreements [only available to UIDP member reps] which can help universities and companies strengthen and broaden their relationship and thus are relevant to any discussion about strategic U-I partnerships. The primary focus of an MRA is to set forth the terms and conditions for multiple sponsored research projects; this guide explains what makes MRAs different from a one-off sponsored research agreements, outlining the key elements and considerations of MRAs, including the benefits and drawbacks of pursuing this type of agreement.

Collaboration Metrics

This webinar on collaboration metrics [only available to UIDP member reps] is an outcome of the Collaboration Scorecard Project, which is focused on identifying available data to evaluate the effectiveness of specific U-I collaborations in order to develop a scorecard for use in assessing the value of a collaboration. The UIDP has been working with UCSD’s Advanced Professional Degree Consulting Club (APDCC) to interview people about the metrics they use or wish they could use. In this webinar, the students present their findings and provide an overview of a way to visualize U-I collaboration metrics. For those attending UIDP22, we’ll be sharing a sneak-peak of the Scorecard at one of the sessions so check out the agenda for more information.

There are many more UIDP resources available to help UIDP member representatives explore the topic of strategic U-I partnerships in more detail. If you have questions about any of these resources, or others you can access, please email us at