Culture clash seen as top barrier in Europe to university-industry R&D, survey finds

Culture conflicts get in the way of good collaboration between European universities and companies, according to preliminary results of a new survey released at the Euroscience Open Forum today.
By: Terri Robinson
 
 
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July 22, 2008 - PRLog -- Online survey released at ESOF2008 conference

BARCELONA – Culture conflicts get in the way of good collaboration between European universities and companies, according to preliminary results of a new survey released at the Euroscience Open Forum today.

The online survey, being conducted by the Science|Business news service, found differences in culture are the most common obstacles to good collaboration cited by university researchers and company executives – with 30% of respondents picking that from a list of problems. Conflict over the goals of joint research was the second most-common problem cited, at 26%. Among business executives who answered the survey, 62% agreed that university researchers “don’t understand business or market demands.”

Getting good collaboration between university and industry is a problem world-wide, but it’s increasingly regarded as a major obstacle to innovation and economic growth in Europe. Policy analysts have coined a term for its consequence – “the European Paradox,” with great ideas originating in European labs but commercially exploited in US or Asian companies. As a result, many European Union leaders have recently been targeting programmes to improve relations

The survey probes some of the attitudes underlying this communications problem. Other factors, beside cultural outlook and conflicting goals, that were cited by the respondents included uncertainty over who owns the innovation and – especially among business executives – paperwork and the time involved in managing the collaboration.

On a positive note, the academic and business respondents alike agreed that it’s good for society to have such collaborations happen. Of those with experience of collaboration (more than half the respondents), 68% agreed that it had been worth while. And even more, 82%, said it had produced innovations.  

But did it result in an innovation actually getting widely used in society? Respondents were evenly divided, with 34% saying yes, 34% saying no, and the remainder saying they didn’t know.

The survey began online June 13 among online registrants for the Euroscience Open Forum meeting, the largest multi-disciplinary meeting of researchers in Europe, from 18-22 July in Barcelona. As of 18 July, 228 had responded to the survey. Science|Business plans to continue the survey internationally over the Internet and report full results on 2 December, at a conference on academic enterprise it is organizing with Stockholm’s Karolinska Institutet.

For more information: Luca Segantini, Science|Business
luca.segantini@sciencebusiness.net, +32 4773682484

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Science|Business is an independent news and events service for early-stage investment in R&D, across Europe, across industries. Drawing on a network of leading journalists and scientific institutions, www.sciencebusiness.net reports on the first wave of technology - licensing, spin-off investment, intellectual property, contract research and corporate R&D management. Its aim: to bridge the gap between academia and industry in Europe.
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