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Conference Object

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Adult and Continuing Education | Education | Higher Education | University Extension

Publication Details

This paper was presented at the University Industry Innovation Network Conference, which took place in London, United Kingdom, in June 2018.


The focus on the third mission of Universities is now some decades old. Boyer’s assertion that ‘theory simply cannot be divorced from practice’ and that any consideration of the role of faculty ‘must give new dignity and new status to the scholarship of application’ (Boyer, 1992) has been embodied in the almost ubiquitous linking of scholarship to real world issues and applications. There is a general acceptance that the knowledge and skills required in existing and emerging labour markets are often not well served by universities while at the same time there is a realisation that these skill requirements are rapidly changing (Muller, 2015). Collaboration between universities and industries is seen as essential to innovation sys-tems, with a number of researchers pointing to the impact of such collaboration on both the company’s ability to innovate and the generation of economic value within the country and the region. In Ireland a plethora of documents and a range of agencies purport to support and incentivise various forms of engage-ment interactions (Department of Education and Skills, 2017, 2016, 2015). Despite the significant apparent importance placed on university enterprise interactions, concrete measures of impact are severely lacking. Focus at a government agency level tends to be on the (relatively few) impact measures associated with technology transfer activity (Knowledge Transfer Ireland) while the myriad of more common interactions such work-placement opportunities for students, industry-based project activity, site visits, cultural and community interactions, subject matter expert seminars and customised and practice-based learning for those in the workplace tend not to attract as much attention. This full range of possible interactions has been the focus of the work of the CIT Extended Campus – a codification of interactions and an engagement mapping exercise provide a valuable perspective on the potential of collaboration across the academic-industry divide. It is recognised that the motivation and ability to collaborate changes with company size, sector and culture. Geography impacts on collaboration with many companies in collaboration with neighbouring universities, however the quality of the university is also a factor (Laursen, Reichstein, & Salter, 2011) (Fitjar & Gjelsvik, 2018). The factors that influence the scale and scope of engagement within a university differ from those which impact from the business perspective and while ‘the cultural divide between universities and industry runs deep’, effective measures can make a lasting difference (Science | Business Innovation Board, 2012). According to the Central Statistics Office over 99% of enterprises in Ireland are SMEs. While Cork Institute of Technology has worked to support interactions with all sectors and sizes of industry partners over many years it is still not clear that local industry has a knowledge of the possibilities and benefits of engaging. Using the initial results of the State of University-Business Cooperation study (Science to Business Mark-ing Research Centre, 2017) as a framework and question guide, a brief review of the motivators and barriers as experienced by small and medium enterprises is conducted and the findings provide some direction for future efforts.