Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Academia-Industry collaboration

I spent this summer in Japan (http://evainjapan.tumblr.com) at the University of Tokyo where I had received a place in the CMSI Summer Internship Program. This program enabled me to carry out two months of research in Professor Hiromichi Kimura’s group, the Pharmaco-Business Innovation Laboratory.
My task was to look at academia-industry collaborations in the Europe and Japan and try to find out what could be learned for Japanese programs aimed at encouraging these collaborations. I decided to try my design research methodology [1] on this. As programs to encourage academia-industry collaboration are deeply rooted in the local context I decided to focus on teasing out the best process of developing such a program instead of trying to copy something that works somewhere as best practice.
However, first I had to find a way  to describe the situation in Japan and Europe. To this end I developed two frameworks. The first is mapping different collaboration mechanisms according to the interrelatedness of the stakeholders [2] and the role of intellectual property [3]. A second framework maps government programs according to whether they are specifically targeted at a single project or have a general capacity-building scope as well as whether they are enabling or motivating. By enabling I understood creating condition which make collaborations possible in the first place – this includes e.g. “valley of death funding” to mature the scientific discovery to a stage that makes it interesting for industry. Motivating on the other hand is more about creating opportunities and creating incentives to choose collaborative work over other opportunities. As a proof of concept exercise I applied these frameworks to the UK and Japan. It was interesting to see some clear differences regarding which collaboration mechanisms are commonly employed in both countries.
However for an analysis of how context is related to collaboration mechanisms and programs to encourage collaboration it is necessary to carry out an in-depth comparison of selected countries. Thus the two frameworks were complemented by a set of dimensions to characterize different countries. I based this on an OECD model for entrepreneurship [4] and used it to identify candidates for further analysis.

[1]   E.M. Hempe, T. Dickerson, A. Holland, and P.J. Clarkson, “Framework for Design Research in Health and Care Services,” Exploring Services Science,  Geneva: Springer, 2010, pp. 125--135.
[2]   J.D. Thompson, Organizations in action: social science bases of administrative theory, Transaction Publishers, 2003.
[3]   E. Von Hippel and G. Von Krogh, “Free revealing and the private-collective model for innovation incentives,” R&D Management,  vol. 36, 2006, pp. 295–306.
[4]   N. Ahmad and A.N. Hoffmann, “A framework for addressing and measuring entrepreneurship,” OECD Statistics Working Papers, 2008.

I wrote this up in more detail and hope to publish it soon. When I do I will post the link here, if you’d like to have a look beforehand just email me. 

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