The art of creating successful university-industry linkages: Fostering the rise of the entrepreneurial academic

Len Sciacca
The University of Melbourne

How do we create enduring university-industry research collaborations and research programs that have scale? In the last 10 years, the question of how universities should engage with industry has become a national debate in Australia for government policy makers, business groups and university executives. Determining the best policy environment to stimulate innovation and how to implement effective university-industry research partnerships remain challenges to government, industry and universities.
There are now many approaches to developing university-industry linkages but Australian universities continue to struggle to create a stable and sustainable environment that supports entrepreneurial academics. This paper presents a work in progress at the University of Melbourne to develop a sector facing research research program by engaging people directly from a number of industry sectors in the form of Enterprise Professors and Fellows. This paper focuses on the role of the entrepreneurial academic who can lead user-inspired research challenges, influence the sectors through thought leadership and lead large research programs that have scale. The issues as well as the successes in taking a path of deep engagement with the academic community of the University and building relevance and impact will be discussed.
The paper addresses the fundamental organisational and leadership obstacles to achieving a healthy entrepreneurial academic environment that provides research of scale.

The paper deals with the following:
1. Understanding the role of universities
2. Fundamental research, applied research and consulting
3. Pasteur’s Quadrant
4. The entrepreneurial academic in the Australian Environment
5. Academic Research Leadership and Industry
6. The Enterprise Professor/Fellow
7. Creating the right environment for the entrepreneurial academic
8. Research of Scale – the leadership question
9. The Entrepreneurial Academic

The Entrepreneurial Academic
The key elements of an entrepreneurial academic involve:
› Research Vision – the ability to articulate high-end impact for enhanced knowledge, society or industry. This includes a strong sense of what value is gen-erated by that vision for stakeholders, the industry sector or society;
› Thought Leadership – the ability to engage and influence society or industry sec-tors through communication more broadly in the media of technology trends and their implications; and
› Research Leadership – the ability to create and manage large teams, possibly mul-tidisciplinary, and allow other researchers to build large teams underneath them (the delegation piece);