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University-Industry Engagement Advisor

Corporate Affiliates Program at Texas A&M speaks industry’s language


By David Schwartz
Published: November 22nd, 2021

A detailed article on TAMU AgriLife’s Corporate Affiliates Program appears in the November issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For subscription information, click here. 

The Texas A&M AgriLife Corporate Affiliates Program (CAP), set to officially launch in 2022, is already actively soliciting industry partners for the initiative, which it anticipates will “foster and create relationships between Texas A&M AgriLife faculty and graduate students with our incredible industry peers consistent with our land grant mission,” says Patrick Stover, PhD, vice chancellor of Texas A&M AgriLife, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research. 

Stover says he hopes these relationships will accelerate scientific discovery and agricultural solutions to address some of the most challenging and complex issues facing agriculture, food, and health both in the United States and globally.”

The program came about through meetings between Stover, industry partners, and AgriLife’s external advisory board, says Heather Hirsch, program manager and CAP lead. “He saw the need to be able to engage with AgriLife at a very high level, because we are somewhat complicated in terms of how to navigate our ecosystem,” she explains. “There was a need to be able to provide people a doorway and a conduit.”

Hirsch hesitates to call the program “brand new,” but rather a transformation of prior corporate engagement efforts. “For us, it’s just a new way to think about relationships, and packaging that for the companies — to speak more in their terms and language,” she says. “We’d been doing some things on a fragmented basis; we just pulled it all together.”

“It” involves quite a number of programs and components. As outlined on its website, CAP programs and services fall under three main categories: “Collaborate,” “Innovate,” and “Recruit.”

Under “Collaborate,” AgriLife notes the following components offered to its corporate affiliates:

  • Biannual member’s meeting.
  • Joint proposal opportunities.
  • Industry partner event hosting for Texas A&M AgriLife events or participation in existing ones.
  • Texas A&M AgriLife liaison expertise to help navigate the university ecosystem and make connections.

The biannual member’s meeting, next slated for April 2022, enables members to network with faculty, collaborate on emerging topics, and interact with student talent. “Anyone can become a member,” says Hirsch, noting that it is a fee-based, yearly commitment. “A large company with 101 or more employees pay $6,000 a year; those with fewer employees, $2,000 per year,” she shares. “We wanted to keep the fee for smaller companies less, as we did not want to exclude some commodity, or production-oriented groups.”

The fee, she explains, pays for the program to sponsor networking events and put on the meetings. As for the liaisons, she continues, “CAP is all about a relationship with AgriLife, which means involving people. Each company will have a person to help them navigate, rather than go to the website, to get to the right place.” These individuals, she adds, “have infinite knowledge of AgriLife, so the companies are not given the run-around, or sitting on the other end of the computer, mindlessly surfing.”

Click here to continue reading this article with a subscription to University-Industry Engagement Advisor. Already a subscriber? Click here to log in.

Cultivate Winning University-Industry Relationships Through Corporate Affiliate Programs is a practical distance learning program featuring the University of Washington’s Todd Cleland, PhD, focused on how to structure, manage and grow various types of corporate affiliate programs. Click here for details.

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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