What are the benefits of partnerships between universities and businesses?

In the last decade we have witnessed an explosion of research partnerships between local colleges and business organisations.

Companies, limited by their budget or organisational goals, are reducing their expenditure on early-stage research.

Instead, universities are filling that gap.

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Universities are also viewing their academic-industry partnerships as a welcome change. These partnerships give them funds for academic research, which are hard to come by when there is a lack of government support.

Both sides can benefit a lot from forging long-term collaborations instead of one-off projects. Let’s find out how.

Benefits for companies

The National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) reported that there were nearly 103,000 corporate partnerships between universities and businesses across Europe in 2017. This figure has certainly increased in the past few years.

This rapid increase in industry-academic relationships may indicate the huge benefits that a company can gain from a partnership with a university. Here are the top advantages of signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with your local university.

  • The company gets access to state-of-the-art research facilities and equipment
  • Universities are a hot bed of fresh ideas, perspectives and talent for corporate finance management
  • University campuses can provide space for a growing business
  • The research support received by universities can translate into funding and support for initial stage startups
  • New age universities are better aware of industry trends than ever before.

Benefits for universities

With government research funds tightening, universities are interested to see how the corporate sector can fill the gaps.

Partnering with companies and businesses gives universities access to more resources to fund their research and diversify their research areas. They also receive industry feedback and guidance on their inventions helping them to improve further.

Industry partnerships also allow universities to expose their students to real-time industry jobs. Most students involved in incubator projects are often offered a role within the company after their graduation since they have had time to adjust to the company culture.

Students turning into full-time employees as a result of the partnership can be a powerful PR tool for the universities. High placement numbers can be used to entice prospective students and possible corporate partners.

Lastly, partnering with companies allows universities to conduct networking events which are extremely important for students’ career prospects.

How can companies improve their partnership prospects with universities?

It can be beneficial for companies to consider a relationship model for their engagement with universities. A long-term relationship can help them avoid lengthy negotiations for every research project and stay connected with early-stage research.

There is always room for improvement when it comes to forging partnerships with universities. Here are some ways businesses can improve the quality and number of university partnerships.

  • Targeting universities near talent clusters and industrial cities
  • Funding early-stage research projects in universities
  • Exploring beyond the top schools
  • Having an extensive dialogue to find a common ground for non-disclosure
  • Developing a more flexible system for patent licensing
  • Re-negotiating partnerships in good faith.

The Gisma-TCS Partnership

A successful case study of an industry-academic partnership would be the recent partnership between Gisma University of Applied Sciences and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

TCS is considered a world leader in providing IT services, consulting and business solutions to organisations across the globe. This partnership provides Gisma students with connections to different global organisations.

The partnership between TCS and Gisma covers a wide range of collaborative activities like conferences, seminars and other organised events.

The partnership saw the birth of TCS Sustainathon Europe, a platform to give young students a chance to collaborate with private and non-profit companies.

The Sustainathon also aims at solving different MIMO (Most Ignored but Most Obvious) business challenges like microplastics through extensive discussions and research projects.

The collaboration will see the exchange of research material, publications and educational resources between TCS employees and Gisma students. The partnership also allows for academic support to TCS employees who can update their skills through various Gisma programmes.

Simultaneously, Gisma students can expect internship opportunities within TCS through the Pace Internship programme.

TCS isn’t the only corporate business to benefit from the impressive talent pool at GISMA. GISMA has been associated with  many other industry partners like Volkswagen and Smartvie GmbH for short-term projects.


Gisma University of Applied Sciences in Germany offers a chance to get real-time industry insights from these partnerships with the Global MBA course. You can also choose from a wide range of industry-oriented courses in many disciplines and subjects.

Click  here to view the list of programmes available at Gisma.


 – This article was written by Sweha Hazari and edited by Olly Cox.

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