Co-location allows for the efficient use of industry and university personnel and resources in a shared space where collaborative research is carried out based on an agreed long term strategic vision. The use of a common space enables a daily basis interaction and reduces communication and cultural barriers associated with being located in different facilities.
Analyze the main bottlenecks taking place in several joint activities and identify best practices to increase the long-term efficiency, societal impact and throughput of University-Industry partnerships.
- Share strategic vision on research projects and exploitable results.
- Conduct joint research projects and educational activities in a shared space.
- Monitor the interaction, analyze results and ask stakeholders´ experience to come up with new approaches.
Co-location activities carried out within the Pilot
- PAE course – Applied Engineering Project: A university course where students are introduced to innovation in business, Agile and LEAN principles through the development of an applied engineering project motivated by companies’ technical challenges.
- Aula Empresa: Company workshops/seminars to University students: During two weeks, the Computer Science School at UPC hosts short workshops/seminars of 9 hours each, where professionals from ICT companies present different aspects of their companies.
- Industrial Doctorate Program in Catalonia: A special program developed by the Catalan government, in which an industrial organization and a university agree on collaborate for the successful execution of a PhD. The organization agrees to co-locate a PhD Candidate as a full-time employee with a significant dedication to the execution of her PhD Thesis.
How to set up and implement a co-location process?
- STARTING POINT: Usually, a person at the company and a professor at the university know each other well and they have built a relationship of trust through previous research collaboration.
- FRAMEWORK AND AGREEMENT (Steps 1-2): Since company/university co-location is based on a long term strategic agreement, several contractual terms have to be agreed, such as IP and legal issues, financial provisions, duration, logistics (shared space and infrastructure), areas of knowledge, etc. Company and university management should find most relevant teams at this moment, which will be the contact points of the partnership.
- IMPLEMENTATION (Steps 3-7): A well-structured process helps optimize the interaction, as follows:
- Vision and planning: Company and university staff agree on a shared strategic research vision and explore different options to implement the co-location: individual projects, organization of joint events, participation in courses or activities, etc.
- Training: Company and university staff meet to form the co-located group, get trained on the co-location spirit and culture. Team building activities take place, as well other trainings, such as open innovation or on technical topics.
- Execution: Company and university staff execute the research plan work jointly. At the same time, they discuss more ways to collaborate during the next iteration.
- Evaluation: Research plan is evaluated and assessed based on joint KPIs created by both organizations. Company and university staff present the results of their joint research.
Identify best practices that solve the main bottlenecks found during the shared experience, focused on:
- Co-located team: How to increase trust and motivate personnel.
- Processes: Define an easier and faster market validation process of new research ideas.
- Output: How to increase the number of impactful joint innovation opportunities and industry-ready skilled students.
Four initial guidelines for a successful Co-Location:
- Embrace the different nature and asymmetries of companies and universities in terms of structure, processes, timings, objectives, commercialization vs dissemination/publication objectives.
- Define a sufficiently detailed agreement to support processes, but flexible enough to incorporate new activities.
- Train staff well and involve the required resources that enable an agile interaction.
- Be ready to exploit the results of the collaboration and continuously improve the interaction.