Assessing the impact of university-industry collaborations : a multi-dimensional approach

Rossi, Federica and Rosli, Ainurul and Yip, Nick K. T. and Lacka, Ewelina (2014) Assessing the impact of university-industry collaborations : a multi-dimensional approach. Hélice, 3 (8). (

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The growing importance of university-industry knowledge transfer has prompted government bodies at all levels to devise ways to support and encourage collaborations between universities and industry (UICs). These collaborations have been shown to be effective knowledge transfer channels and are particularly likely to generate long-term benefits for firms and various stakeholders. Funds are made available to support collaborative research projects, for example by the European Commission Framework Programmes, the Advanced Technology Programme in the United States, the Research Councils in the United Kingdom, government programmes in Germany and the Netherlands, and many others. Despite these increases in funding, the literature shows that the assessment of the impact of interventions in support of UICs is usually based on a narrow range of metrics, mainly focused on capturing the income accrued from the collaboration and a few other quantitative output indicators. There is, therefore, a need for more in-depth investigations into the impact that UICs have on a broad range of stakeholders, over time, in order to support a transition towards more accurate and comprehensive approaches to impact assessment. In our study, we propose a theoretical framework to identify the multiple dimensions of such impact. By focusing on the case of the United Kingdom, and in particular on one type of government-supported university-industry collaboration scheme, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs), we discuss the application of this framework to our empirical investigation of fourteen case studies of recent KTPs, and we explore ways to standardize the measurement of at least some of these impact dimensions, in order to contribute to the debate on how to build better indicators of UIC performance.