An automotive company is searching for an innovative solution for a specific problem. The research group System Reliability, Adaptive Structures, and Machine Acoustics SAM of Technische Universität Darmstadt was asked to develop solutions by involving students into the innovation process. These students are highly motivated, highly qualified, and not constrained by the standardized work flow in the industry. Therefore, they are ideally suited to develop innovative solutions off the beaten path.
STAGE 1 - AGREEMENT AND SHAPING OF THE RESEARCH TOPIC
First the automotive company and the TU Darmstadt have to agree on a research topic based on the industry’s needs and the knowledge of the research group at TU Darmstadt. Therefore, a cooperation contract is signed between both partners to ensure a good cooperation. Finally, the student group has to be recruited at the TU Darmstadt.
STAGE 2 - RESEARCH PHASE
The student group does research on the defined topic. In parallel, a continuous communication among all actors has to be ensured in order to meet all expectations
STAGE 3 - PRESENTATION OF THE RESULTS AND GRADING OF THE STUDENT GROUP
The student group presents the outcomes to both, university and industry. After the presentation, the results will be discussed among all actors. Finally the student group will be graded.
TOUCH POINT - UNIVERSITY- INDUSTRY INTERACTION
Touchpoints are the TU Darmstadt, which agrees with the industry on a research topic, the student group, which works on a research question defined by the industry, and the supervisors staying in contact to ensure all expectations are met.
BARRIER 1 - INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
The main bottleneck is the management of IP. One the one hand, the automotive company claims all rights of the research outcomes. On the other hand the student group, as a part of TU Darmstadt, also claims its rights. Before the Advanced Design Project starts, a clear legal binding agreement has to be passed.
BARRIER 2 - DIFFERENT EXPECTATIONS
The university is expecting very accurate and detailed research on fundamental questions, while the industry expects ready-to-use outcomes, which can be monetized. The student group, who is in between these different expectations, must serve both interests.
The main objective of the student group is to get the ECTS to proceed in their studies in order to graduate. To achieve this target, the group will do excellent research in a highly motivated way. Additionally the group can experience latest problems in industry to gain experience. The main success factors are a clearly defined task and reliable supervisors.
The main objective of Technische Universität Darmstadt is to have a strong and intense cooperation with the industry to learn about the industry’s needs in research. The knowledge transfer from university to industry is very direct, but also the knowledge about the industry’s needs do influence the university’s research activities.
The main objective of the automotive company is to gather innovative solutions off the beaten path for their problems. The main success factor is to have a motivated and capable group of students doing the research.
At the very beginning, a detailed definition of the task must be carried out. A student group must be recruited, which is highly motivated, highly qualified, and open minded towards innovative research outcomes. In order to avoid differences concerning the intellectual property, a clear agreement has to be passed before the Advanced Design Project starts. During the project itself, it is vital that all actors communicate closely in order to meet the expectations of all actors.
The task must not be too detailed in order to avoid narrowing the field of solutions. Innovations need space to flourish. Additionally, the student group must not be influenced too much by traditional solutions available in the industry for years to enable innovation. From the supervisor’s point of view, the degree of guidance must neither be too low, nor too high in order to give enough guidance to achieve innovative solutions, but not to push the student group to traditional solutions.
- Detail the tasks early on.
- Recruit a group of students that is highly motivated, highly qualified and open minded towards innovative research outcomes.
- Clear up the agreement of IP before the project starts.
- Facilitate communication among actors throughout the project.
- Do not detail tasks too much in order to avoid narrowing the field of solutions.
- Do not influence the students too much by traditional solutions already available in the industry for years to enable innovation.
- As a supervisor try to find the right balance between guidance and freedom for the students.