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Monday, November 11, 2013

Universities and Economic Innovation

Universities are commonly seen as partners in innovation development. Research by Howels, Ramlogan, and Cheng (2012) suggests that most traditional universities have a natural divide with businesses. These universities do contribute to the fundamental foundations of innovation by training and retaining new talent within local economies but are not often seen as partners in innovation.

Brestow, et. al. (2011) found that universities are known to develop local human capital, attract, develop and retain graduates. This affords businesses an opportunity to gain knowledge transfer by hiring recent graduates that have update theoretical skills with greater capacity to use technology. The transfer is indirect and not well connected.

Universities often seek to measure their success in fostering business development. Links are considered informal. They ignore the concept that both formal and informal links contribute to innovation development. The ability to measure these informal links is difficult and companies do not regularly see the benefits of such connections due to their indirect nature.

Those firms that have direct connections to universities also have higher funded research and development departments. Medium and small companies do not consistently have access to university research, information or libraries. They rely more on their supplier networks for new ideas and information.

In their literary search, the authors found that both UK and U.S. traditional colleges seem to have this great divide with business. Due to the nature of such universities and lack of direct connections, they appear to lack formal communication with companies. The theoretical and practical research generation from university endeavors is not often seen or accessible to such companies.

The authors conclude that even though universities have a hand in innovation development they are often informal in nature and rarely direct. To move beyond this report it is possible to see how online universities, with greater internet connectivity, could collaborate more with businesses through open innovation platforms and available library access. Research findings made public, business collaboration platforms, and access to libraries may make direct connections between business innovative development and university success. Relationships between universities and the business sector could be become more collaborative and concrete.

Bristow, G., Pill, M., Davies, R. and Drinkwater, S. (2011). Welsh Graduate Mobility , Cardiff, Welsh Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods


Howells, J. & Ramlogan, R. & Cheng, S. (2012). Innovation and university collaboration: paradox and complexity within the knowledge economy. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 36 (3). 

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