IMPROVING INDUSTRY-ACADEMIA SYNERGIES
It is very important to have synergy between academia and the industry. Industry needs bright, talented, well-prepared graduates to join the workforce, while academia requires insight into industry's needs to ensure that it can develop a future workforce that is prepared to meet those needs. Academia and industry share a symbiotic relationship. Academia produces graduates who are absorbed by industry. Research work in universities are taken up by the industry and turned into products and services. Industry on the other hand looks to academia for solutions to their concerns.
Industry would like universities to tailor their courses so as to turn out graduates whose skill-set are aligned to industry requirements. Often new research topics arise out of interaction between the duos which benefit both academia and industry. Collaboration between universities and industries is critical for skills development (education and training), the generation, acquisition, and adoption of knowledge (innovation and technology transfer), and the promotion of entrepreneurship. The benefits of university-industry linkages are wide-reaching: they can help coordinate R&D agendas and avoid duplications, stimulate additional private R&D investment, and exploit synergies and complementarities of scientific and technological capabilities.
Management programs are becoming highly specialized. New technologies are emerging day-in and day-out. Every industry’s context is increasingly getting different from another. Today, it is leading to a need to acquire specialized skills; and this is where the collaboration between industry and academia is very important. Exchange programs, apprenticeship, project-based training and working together as a team are some of the things that can get students to experience the industry and also get a context of what is happening in the industry.
Some workable suggestions for improving industry-academia synergies are mentioned below:
1. Industry may fund focused research in universities which they can operationalize. This may include setting up laboratories, designating industry chairs, and providing guest faculty and placement opportunities.
2. Students and teaching fraternity may be actively engaged by the industry to work on live projects, summer / winter internships that may lead to final placement offers. There could a arrangement for faculty to take leave of couple of years and work in the industry and on the other side industry practitioners may share their practical wisdom in the classes
3. The industry would be able to create together with academia long-term sustainable consortia to organize funding and develop new products and services.
4. Venkatesh Raghavan, President, OSGeo Foundation pitches for the co-creation of knowledge by academia and industry -based on open source and open data. Also building global open access teaching and research infrastructure, providing worldwide learning platforms and training opportunities and establishing collaborations between academia, government and industry
5. Millennials entering the job market today are ready to learn new technologies and how to collaborate. Entrepreneurs and educational institutes need to recognize this opportunity and build a constructive framework for collaboration to make India a global innovation hub. In countries like the US, corporates reach out to universities/institutions to bring innovation into their work, while in India, corporates and industry bodies rely mostly on their own research rather than reaching out to academia. The social environment, lack of awareness about scholarships, stereotyped images of pure science projects and the attitude of corporates towards scholars are some of the issues which need to be dealt with if India needs to surpass China and other Western nations.
6. Another area for development could be encouraging a public-private initiative to launch faculty development programmes in leading universities and focus on more outcome-based research. Additionally, industry should participate in developing the entrepreneurial culture in India by setting up incubation centres and research parks for innovative research.
7. Collaboration may be more or less intense and may focus on training or research activities. Collaboration may be formal or informal, from formal equity partnerships, contracts, research projects, patent licensing, and so on, to human capital mobility, publications, and interactions in conferences and expert groups.
8. Industries today are moving towards establishing their own universities and academic centres that are tailored towards offering curricular content and employing methodologies helping to churn out graduates who are ready to be directly absorbed in the industries.
It is clearly a time to create a nurturing environment where the industry and the academia can work hand-in-hand. Corporates are beginning to realize the significance and engage in more and more research-based projects. In addition, government projects like Start-up India, Stand-up India and the Prime Minister’s Fellowship Scheme for Doctoral Research will help bridge this gap and inculcate innovation across industries/sectors.
Prof (Dr.) Manoj Mehrotra
School of Management Sciences