In the Beginning: The University-Industry Partnership
The concept and design of the University-Industry Demonstration Partnership was one of the products of over two years of discussion by a predecessor group, The University-Industry Partnership. The University-Industry Partnership consisted of approximately 35 hand-picked individuals that were assembled by the Industrial Research Institute (IRI) and the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA).
The first meeting of the University-Industry Partnership was held in August, 2003, in San Francisco. This meeting was hosted by NCURA as part of their annual meeting. Subsequent meetings were held at the National Academies using the Government-University Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR) as the neutral convener. Sponsorship from 2003 through early 2006 came from NCURA, the Kauffman Foundation, the Wallace Coulter Foundation and the Sloan Foundation, as well as individual donations from Boeing, Extrude Hone (which later became Ex One), Hewlett Packard and Microsoft.
The purpose of the University-Industry Partnership was to deliberate on the causes of, and potential solutions to, the difficulties facing universities and companies when attempting to work together. Grounding the deliberations of this group were two documents of note: Working Together, Creating Knowledge, produced by the Business-Higher Education Forum, and Responsible Partnering Guidelines, issued by four European organizations working in collaboration (EIRMA, EARTO, PROTON and EUA). Though the Partnership’s deliberations were energetic and seemingly endless, they ultimately broke the conceptual ground necessary to frame and establish the more implementation-focused UIDP.
Outcomes of the University-Industry Partnership
Four outcomes were generated by the five meetings of the University-Industry Partnership:
- A set of Guiding Principles for University-Industry Endeavors. These Guiding Principles emphasize the long-term returns that can accrue to university-industry partnerships that are constructed fairly and conducted with competence and sophistication.
- A compendium of Living Studies that describes in concrete terms how the Guiding Principles apply to day-to-day intellectual property negotiations.
- A National Summit that brought together 150 representatives from government, university, and industry to share the philosophy and practices distilled from the Partnership. This summit took place on April 25, 2006.
- The concept and design for a new alliance, the University-Industry Demonstration Partnership, and a work plan for its first demonstration project called TurboNegotiator and described in a white paper. Elements of this plan were introduced at the April 25, 2006, National Summit. The UIDP itself had its first meeting on December 13, 2006.
Composition of the Partnership
From its conception, the University-Industry Partnership was intentionally constructed to represent the entire spectrum of university-industry relations. On the industry side, there was representation from a variety of industrial sectors – aerospace, agriculture, biotechnology, chemicals, consumer products, defense, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and software. Both small and large companies were consciously included. On the university side, both private and public universities, small and large, were at the table.
Within both the industry and the university contingents, the decision-making chain of command was represented in the membership: participants included bench researchers, research managers, vice presidents in charge of research resource allocations, legal counsel and other professionals devoted to sponsored research and licensing negotiations. Government interests and key professional organizations were also engaged.
The overarching philosophy of the University-Industry Partnership was that, by including the entire breadth of interests relevant to university-industry partnering, one could arrive at a set of solutions and innovations. These measures would be robust enough to be widely adoptable by diverse partnerships on a national scale. This philosophy of actively pursuing industry sector breadth in order to generate robust solutions remains embodied in the UIDP mission and membership.