University –Industry Partnership: meeting the challenges of the 21st century
Universities play a crucial role in society as producers and transmitters of knowledge. In recent years the discussion whether academia can encompass a third mission of enterprise development, in addition to research and teaching, has received greater attention (Mansfield,1995;Branscomb et al, 1999; Etzkowitz & Leydesdorff, 2000). Much of the current debate on university-industry links focuses on a narrow range of activities such as spin-offs and start-ups from universities and higher education institutes, and the licensing of intellectual property. However, as many authors have noted, university-industry links embrace a much broader spectrum of activities than commercialization of intellectual property rights ( Agrawal and Henderson, 2002; Mowery and Sampat, 2003; Cohen et al, 2002;Schartinger et al, 2001). In particular, Cohen et al (2002), using the data from the Carnegie Mellon Survey of R&D performing firms in the US, highlighted that for most industries, patents and licenses were of lower importance as channels for conveying public research to industry compared to publications, conferences, informal interactions and consulting. In addition, Schartinger et al (2001) and Roessner(1993) have shown that patenting and licensing account for a low proportion of university- industry interactions when compared to other formal arrangements such as contract research or joint research agreements. 2 In this paper the interface between universities and industry is studied as a way of responding to the economic needs of society in the twenty-first century through academic entrepreneurship i.e. the variety of ways in which universities take direct part in the commercialization of knowledge through the supply of creative research and inventions. This university-industry interaction will help the industry deal with financial pressure to reduce costs and increase efficiency; increased competition and rising customer expectations. It will also enhance the ability of universities to deal with global competition in the academic market place; pressure to diversify financing sources; and rising demands from students and society for quality and relevant curricula.