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UIDP-University of Pittsburgh Survey on Corporate Partnering Functions

In May 2020, the University of Pittsburgh asked UIDP to field a survey asking members how their industry partnering offices operate. Key findings of the survey were later published by the University of Pittsburgh and may be downloaded here.

Among the report highlights:

There were no meaningful differences between the responses of public and private universities. Across questions, the distributions of responses between private and public institutions remained relatively consistent. Given the structural differences between these two types of institutions—in total, 64 public and 23 private—we hypothesized that we may see difference in the way these offices operated, or were resourced, but found instead that offices from each type of institution faced similar challenges and operating realities, and to similar degrees.

University partnering offices are evolving. Less than half of respondents indicated their office or team has existed in its current structure for more than five years, and over 1/3 of respondents indicated their offices were currently re-structuring or re-missioning. In both these groups, the majority identified as Central Business Engagement Offices—confirming this continues to be a popular approach for organizing university partnering capability across UIDP membership.

Organizational alignment around and clarity on the purpose and role of the industry partnering office drives greater stakeholder value. Unfortunately, only half of respondents felt internal stakeholders were clear and aligned on the purpose and role of their office. However, the vast majority of these respondents (93%) indicated that their office is also perceived as adding value to engagements with industry partners.

There were seven offices that despite being less than two years old, noted stake- holders were clear and aligned on their purpose and role. An interesting question for further exploration might be to investigate how these teams were able to efficiently and effectively socialize their function, and as a result quickly begin to add value to their stakeholders.

Appropriately-resourced offices are better able to contribute to their organizations, but the majority of offices are not appropriately resourced. 43% of respondents either disagreed or strongly disagreed that their office was appropriately resourced to deliver on its mission. This proportion remained consistent across the three types of offices that were represented by the respondents: Central Business Engagement Offices, Sponsored Research Offices, and Technology Transfer Offices. As you might expect, 95% of appropriately resourced offices felt they were perceived as adding value, while only 48% of under-resourced offices felt they were able to do so.

Successful offices employ reporting mechanisms, with more preferring soft socialization methods than hard metric approaches. Among offices who feel internal stakeholders are clear and aligned on the purpose and role of their office — over 85% employ at least one form of reporting, and only 11 relied solely on meeting with their direct line of leadership. As would be expected, communicating the capabilities of partnering offices is likely to increase alignment around their purpose and amplify their impact across the university.


Sept. 15, 2020