Large enterprises around the world are increasingly seeking to cooperate with carefully selected universities, for example in joint labs and research centres. Dutch universities are following this trend and are successfully locking in global firms worldwide.
This new form of partnership offers strategic advantages for both the university and the firm, but it also raises new questions. The university and the firm each has its own priorities. The strategic partnership is a new phenomenon and all parties are still learning how to organise it successfully. Now is the time for them, and government, to reflect on the potential consequences of the choices they must make regarding the partnership.
For universities, strategic partnerships represent a way to conduct high-level research and to attract and retain talented researchers. The partnership may also make their research more economically relevant. At the same time, such partnerships help to maintain the Netherlands’ appeal as a knowledge hub; they attract R&D investment in our knowledge economy by offering investors knowledge rather than tax benefits. The firms, often multinationals, are first in line, so to speak, and have better access to public knowledge and researchers than other parties, such as SMEs. Strategic partnerships can lead to the unwelcome outflow of knowledge and talent abroad. Another important question is what role large enterprises are assigned in setting public research agendas.
This report is based on a study of the literature, three case studies (Chemelot InSciTe, DELTA Lab and ARCNL) and interviews with experts and stakeholders.
Tjong Tjin Tai, S.Y., J. van den Broek, T. Maas, T. Rep and J. Deuten (2018). Industry seeking university – The emergence of strategic public-private research partnerships. The Hague: Rathenau Instituut