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Collaborating with Industry: New Workshops Guide Researchers

Business people meeting

At the University of Minnesota, partnering with industry offers new opportunities for launching research projects that address industry-relevant problems and benefit society through new products and services. Business and industry-sponsored awards made up over $64 million of the U’s research enterprise in fiscal 2018.

To help researchers understand how to form collaborations with the private sector, U of M Technology Commercialization, in partnership with Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA), launched a series of workshops this year called Industry Research Partnerships. Leza Besemann, senior marketing manager for Technology Commercialization and organizer of the workshops, said they were designed to inspire researchers to think about industry partnerships.

“We know that many faculty and researchers want to work with industry but don't know how to get started, or are intimidated by the potential administrative burden on the University side,” Besemann said. “We wanted to give faculty the tools they need to get started with an industry partnership and make the process more transparent.”

The workshops cover a range of topics, including how researchers can find the right industry partner, promote their lab and expertise, put together a project proposal and budget, and work with SPA to get an agreement signed. They also provide a basic introduction to intellectual property, confidentiality, and publication terms, as well as an understanding on how industry partners’ expectations differ from those of federal agencies.

While the workshops are most beneficial for faculty and post-doctoral researchers who are new to industry-sponsored research, those who have some prior experience with industry—but would like to have more partnerships—are also encouraged to attend. Besemann said attendees have found the workshops helpful so far.

“We want to show researchers that it is possible to be really successful with industry partnerships—with funding, educating students, and advancing their research goals,” she said.

Recordings of the first three workshops, which took place in April and May, are now available:

  • Finding the Right Industry Partner: How to understand industry expectations and perspectives, identify different types of industry engagement, make industry connections, and promote your research.
  • 3 Steps to Secure Industry Funding: How to put together a project proposal, prepare a budget, and finalize a research contract. Topics such as confidentiality and intellectual property and publication terms (openness in research) were also discussed.
  • How I Obtained More than $1M in Industry Funding: Successful peers discuss how they developed multiple industry partnerships and have more than $1 million in industry funding.

Information about future workshops will be shared with the research community as they are scheduled.

Kevin Coss

Kevin Coss

Kevin is a communications specialist with the Office of the Vice President for Research.

coss@umn.edu

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