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UIDP 1-Minute Survey: How Does Your University “Do” Corporate Engagement?

The corporate engagement function can be structured within the greater organization in a variety of ways. This survey, prompted by a UIDP member organization, delved into how universities organize functions that commonly fall under the corporate engagement umbrella—how institutions “do” corporate engagement. Download the results.

This topic is explored in depth in the UIDP member publication, Comparing Internal Structures.

We asked which vice president (or equivalent) these offices report to in the university structure. Just over a third (34%) said their offices report to the vice president of development, but more than one in five said they report to the vice president of research, closely followed by a dual reporting structure (both the VP of research and VP of development). “Other” responses varied widely, including the university vice president, vice president of university relations university director, deans, provost, and the head of marketing and communications.

For the majority of respondents, corporate relations is all (34%) or more than half (24%) of what the unit does. A minority of respondents (32%) said corporate relations is not the unit’s primary responsibility. Among those respondents, the unit’s primary responsibility is securing research projects/funding (39%) tech transfer (29%), connecting industry to the development/ startup/entrepreneurship ecosphere, or another function.

Corporate engagement units may include a range of related functions and capabilities. Among those for whom corporate relations encompasses at least 50% of what their units do (n=45), we asked whether three specific capabilities function within their units: Innovation/Sponsored Research, Entrepreneurship/Economic Development, and Lifelong Learning/Student Development. Among these, Lifelong Learning/Student Development was most likely to operate in a separate unit, while Innovation/Sponsored Research and Entrepreneurship/Economic Development were most likely to function at least in part within the corporate engagement office.

Digging deeper into reporting lines for these functions within universities, we asked all respondents (n=77) which vice president each area reports to. Innovation/Sponsored Research overwhelmingly reports to the VP of Research (80%), but there was significantly less agreement about reporting for Entrepreneurship/ Economic Development. Lifelong Learning/Student Development did not appear to fall as a responsibility under VPs for research or development for most responding organizations.

Survey fielded Aug. 13-19, 2020 | n=77