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University–industry collaborations: an industry perspective

Ferran Giones (Mads Clausen Institute, University of Southern Denmark, Sønderborg, Denmark)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 17 June 2019

Issue publication date: 22 November 2019




The engagement with industry actors is a key element in the transition towards an entrepreneurial university model. The purpose of this paper is to explore the university–industry collaboration (UIC) drivers from the industry side. It analyses how, and to what extent, policy interventions could increase the engagement of industry actors in UICs.


An experimental research design has been used involving a feasibility and pilot study (January to June 2018) with 36 firms, in a non-urban region context, with a satellite university campus. The pilot study explores a randomised control trial (RCT) design, with a training intervention to a randomized group of participants in the pilot study.


Firms involved in universities’ students (academic forms of UICs) might not necessarily consider the university as a research partner, even in a geographic proximity setting. In addition, there is a potential “dark-side” to proximity, when industry participants build their perceptions using second-hand experiences or indirect information. A training intervention facilitates to overcome pre-existing biases but does not trigger a substantial change in the UIC’s behaviour of the firms in the short-term.

Research limitations/implications

The pilot study provides valuable insights for researchers interested in a larger RCT. It also provides insights for university managers who want to understand the motivations of industry participants in UICs.


The experimental approach of the research generates evidence on the feasibility to intervene in the activation of UICs from an industry perspective, a central aspect in transition towards an entrepreneurial university model.



National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts Innovation Growth Lab (IGL) Research Grant 2017. This work was supported by Innovation Growth Lab’s (IGL) – NESTA program for Randomized Controlled Trails in the area of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Grant for “Accelerating science-based growth through co-innovation”). Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IGL-NESTA. The author would like to thank the guest editors, Giovanni Schiuma, Giustina Secundo, Paul Jones and the two anonymous reviewers for providing highly constructive feedback that allowed to substantially improve the manuscript. The author would also like to thank Abhijith Ullas for his support to the project and the delivery of the program. Likewise to Lou-Davina Stouffs and James Phipps for their support and suggestions during the preparation and execution of the research project.


Giones, F. (2019), "University–industry collaborations: an industry perspective", Management Decision, Vol. 57 No. 12, pp. 3258-3279.



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