What is an industry research partnership?
Industry partnerships bring the best of academia and the private sector together in collaboration
Universities and businesses have different strengths. Academic research is able to focus on fundamentals and blue-sky research, while industry is more focused on applied research, and is able to translate discoveries and developments into real-world applications more quickly.
Industry partnerships harness the strengths of both in collaborative research. They are an effective way to translate your research and expertise into real-world impact.
Companies and academics choose to collaborate for a variety of reasons. In a typical scenario, a company has research and development challenges they need to address, but which are too capital-intensive to carry out in-house due to the need to hire permanent staff with relevant expertise and to have access to the required infrastructure.
They will seek out academic experts in in relevant fields who are interested in the problems that need solving, and agree to work in partnership. The work is funded by the business, sometimes alongside other funding such as a grant from a research council. Depending on contractual arrangements, the business may own or have the right to access any new intellectual property (IP) the research generates.
Industry partners are interested in funding research in a range of fields and in working with academics who specialise in basic as well as applied research.
While industry partnerships are central to the work of many Imperial research groups, many academics choose to work with industry on a smaller scale. A self-contained industrial project by a PhD student or postdoc in your group can help provide your team with greater commercial awareness and understanding of industry challenges.
(If you have already developed an invention with potential commercial applications, you may be better positioned to explore the available options for commercialising existing IP, such as through licensing or creating a spin-out company.)