Much has been written on making university:industry program partnerships successful and there is also a useful body of research on university:industry research partnerships. Typically, findings highlight difficulties in the working relationship, or difficulties arising from the institutional perspectives. Wang & Lu (2007) report on the implementation of Professors of Practice in Chinese universities. Even Prigge (2005) in his review of the literature on university-industry partnerships categorises the literature into potential benefits, potential risks and successful collaboration techniques. This paper is based on a series of interviews (approx 30) supported by an e-questionnaire, carried out within the public and private sectors, in large organisations and SME's, and with organisations that work in partnership with universities and those that do not have an existing relationship. Organisations rarely consider a relationship with a University for services they purchase elsewhere. When they do seek the involvement of a University they tend to apply two key criteria: if they need a specific world expert on something they will seek out the national or international expert in the field; or they will go locally because it is perceived to be easier. Generally, the experiences of businesses who have tried to contact their local university has not been good. There is no central account manager for them to contact so they are lucky if they get through to the right people.
Paper presented at the Society for Research into Higher Education Annual Conference (SRHE 2008), Liverpool, United Kingdom, 09-11 December 2008