Key Takeaways from Temple’s Industry-Academia Research Partnership Summit

Moderated By: Monica Wadhwa, Fox Associated Professor of Marketing, Research Impact Director at the Translational Research Center

Dr. Martin Grace, former ARIA President and James Boettner Professor of Risk at Temple’s Fox School, shares key takeaways from Temple’s “2021 Impact Summit” event, which discussed how to bridge the gap between academics and industry professionals.

The “2021 Impact Summit on Academic-Industry Research Collaboration” event was hosted by Temple’s Center for Translational Research. The goal of the event was to discuss ways in which we can fill the gap between academics and industry professionals. The idea of translational research is becoming more important as a way of taking academic research, which may often be hard to access to outsiders, and turn it into something that business can use. We had about 45 participants from industry and academia to explore how we can build a relationship between the two groups that will benefit them both. The event started with a moderated roundtable discussion led by six experts from Risk, Accounting and Marketing then was followed by breakout room discussions—separate groups for Accounting, Marketing and Risk. In these breakout rooms, participants discussed how collaborations between industry and academic can be encouraged. Specific questions groups will focus on are 1) topics that are trendy; 2)what industry folks hope to get from such collaborations; what some bottlenecks are and how can we overcome them, and 3) what academics hope to get from such collaborations.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Provide PhD students with the opportunity to build networks prior to starting their academic career. For example, academic internships could involve industry professionals who share a list of 8-9 topics they are interested in learning more about and the University can sponsor a student for the summer. This will allow the academic to learn more about the industry and develop industry partners, and businesses will benefit by learning more about their topics of interest.
  2. Ensure that the academic maintains control over the research. While businesses are welcome to indicate which topics they would like to learn more about, it is the responsibility of the academic to direct the research and decide in which direction the research should go. To maintain academic integrity, after business has assigned topics to the academic, they cannot control it, otherwise it becomes consulting.
  3. There are incentive problems for faculty that hinder academics from doing more applied research, or having an active role in academic internships/business roles. Most faculty get promoted/tenure by publishing in academic journals, and this sets the faculty member’s market value and outside value. Therefore, they are focused on their journal work rather than participating in academic internships (doing work more closely aligned with industry). There is an opportunity for both sides to improve this and develop closer ties, whereby academics are doing research that aligns with the needs of industry. Bringing academics and industry professionals together to co-design research questions may be one strategy, but addressing the underlying incentive problems will take more brainstorming.
  4. Learning how to write for the right people. We often focus on how many people are reading our work, but perhaps what matters more is if the right people are reading our work. This was Phil Borba’s (a former ARIA Board member’s) point which I thought was particularly insightful. We need to do a better job of identifying and reaching our target audience. One strategy for doing this is to have one-page briefs of RMIR and JRI articles that are written for and shared with industry that highlight important results for current challenges and future trends.

While our first event on this topic was a success, it was just a baby step, and we need to take more steps and quickly. We cannot wait another year to have a discussion like this again. Perhaps a quarterly cadence would be beneficial or even having a breakout session in our ARIA Annual Meeting. This is something that will be facilitated by the new strategic partnership ARIA has with The Institutes.

Translational Research is an extremely important topic in the academic space, and we should continue to focus on it and develop strategies for bridging the gap between industry and academia.

Do you have a best practice at your university that you would like to share with ARIA members? Please email info@aria.org