How University-Industry Collaboration Can Boost Tech Businesses

How University-Industry Collaboration Can Boost Tech Businesses
Even though collaboration between academia and industry has a long history, the activation in this area happening within recent decades is truly impressive.

These days we constantly hear about university-industry partnerships tackling humanity’s greatest challenges: developing drugs for long-standing diseases such as cancer, tuberculosis (Babraham Institute – Astra Zeneca partnerships), getting closer to unlocking the potential of the artificial intelligence (MIT cooperation with IBM), fighting climate change and so on.

All this might remind you a classy move from the apocalyptic film plot - when antagonists agree to collaborate for the sake of saving civilization.

However, there is another motivation hidden behind such alliances which is much more down to earth. It’s simply a win-win deal that gives a competitive advantage for both parties. Universities get practical insight and connect with practicing professionals, whereas businesses get access to the latest research, innovation and graduate talents firsthand. In our case, thanks to the collaboration with academics we managed to boost the development of our R&D initiative, establish connections in the area of Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning, find consultants and researchers and get young talents on board.

Where to start? (based on our experience)

The fact that we hear only about giant companies’ and top-notch universities’ partnerships doesn’t mean there is no room for industry-academic collaboration on a smaller scale. There are many ways how medium and small businesses can cooperate with academia, and it doesn’t compulsory require huge funds and “save-the-planet” purpose. One of them (that we tried) is to participate in public programmes.

Industry-academic cooperation is usually supported by public institutions, governments, local councils, NGOs and so on. They help businesses and universities to connect, provide or help with finding funds, getting access to necessary equipment and so on. You just need to follow such initiatives (simply by googling them) and apply when interested.

This is how we got a chance to become closer to science, thanks to the Mozart programme - the initiative of the city council of Wrocław promoting the partnership between universities and businesses. The goal of this programme is to support the local labor market by connecting local companies to researchers for boosting their intellectual potential.

Within the scope of the project, that lasted for a year (2016-2017), we collaborated with Maciej Matyka (Ph.D., lecturer at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Wrocław, author of numerous publications on computer simulations in physics). He was working on a code that allows presenting a simulation-based scientific document with interactive content. From our side, we were consulting on the programming side of the project. You can see the results of the project here.

In fact, our cooperation has spread far beyond the subject of the project. It resulted in a better understanding of the academic world and how it works, numerous internships for students of the University of Wrocław, a special internship programme, and valuable contacts that helped us develop R&D department devoted to commercial applications of Artificial intelligence, Deep Learning and Augmented Reality. At the moment, together with our academic consultants, we are working on the commercial application of AI for one of our customers. We keep exchanging ideas and support each others’ initiatives, and looking forward to sharing more news on results of our cooperation in the near future.

To sum up…

Keeping in touch with academia accelerates innovation at your company. And if you choose to use latest technologies or scientific discoveries for business, having academics and researchers on board is the way to go. The great way to start is by establishing collaborations with a university. You can do it by participating in publically supported initiatives, just like we did. To get more ideas on how your business can collaborate with university we recommend reading this.

Related articles
What works well and what you should be aware of while working with TensorFlow. READ MORE
Learning methods go through tremendous changes. Right after the e-learning and video tutorials boom, another technology emerged that promises to revolutionize the way we share information. Find out why there is such hype around augmented reality and how it can transform your business in terms of training and knowledge retention. READ MORE
Retrospective meetings are a great occasion for generating insights and ideas to improve workflow efficiency. Sometimes such improvements start travelling from one project to another and become best practices eventually. We want to share our top 7 tried and tested retrospective findings - hope they come in handy for you as well. READ MORE
For tech professionals, staying up-to-date is more than a natural curiosity, it’s a must. How to be wired up without spending too much time on it, and what blogs to follow - further in the blog post. READ MORE
Smooth collaboration and effective project management are crucial for software development. No wonder there are so many approaches and tools designed especially for software project management. And whereas there is no single cure-all tool, you might find our experience in using the following tools helpful! READ MORE
Inspired with the idea to improve the reliability of computer object detection and eliminate the necessity to handle it manually, we initiated a proof-of-concept project on automating microbiological analysis with the help of deep learning for one of our clients. After few rounds of the meticulous testing, we are happy to share the outcomes. READ MORE
The role of a CTO involves constant challenges. And a product release doesn't mean a retirement for a CTO, but a new mode of working and new issues to be prepared for. Check out these top 5 challenges that every CEO of a growing company might face and our tips for handling them. READ MORE
When there are so many examples of tremendous success done by pioneers of certain technologies, the fear of missing out becomes quite reasonable. Don’t miss out two biggest trends of 2018 (from our perspective) and learn how your business can respond to them by reading this blog post. READ MORE
The transition to Scrum is an exciting learning experience for everyone involved. However, it might be overshadowed with human skepticism and doubts. Read more to learn what challenged to expect during the Scrum adoption and how to avoid them. READ MORE
Changing the way how people used to work might be quite a pain. And doing it by introducing Scrum is not an exception. If you’re considering to adopt Scrum or started the transition process already, this blog post is for you. READ MORE
When development becomes painful and time-consuming the debate over “what to do now?” starts. Fueled by developers’ claims “the code is a mess”, “we can’t work with the legacy code”, “let’s rewrite it” from one side, and the business trying to solve the issue less dramatically - from the other, the discussion seems to be never-ending. This blog post will guide you through potential pitfalls while deciding whether to improve the existing code (by refactoring, running unit tests etc.) or rewrite it from scratch. READ MORE
Bringing together people to work on the same project from different locations is becoming a common practice. But distance and lack of physical connection take its toll and may bring impediments to the workflow. After 7 years of experience in setting up distributed teams using Scrum, we cut our teeth on the possible pitfalls and collected several rules to make things work... READ MORE