University-Industry Engagement Week

Inking a co-location deal is just the beginning: Now it’s time to keep promises


By David Schwartz
Published: May 17th, 2022

A detailed article filled with best practices for stewardship of co-located industry partners appears in the May issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For subscription information, click here. 

Convincing a key industry partner to locate on campus is a big deal — but then what? How will you prepare to welcome your partner into the campus community? What are the keys to optimizing the benefits of co-location, and developing an even deeper partnership going forward?

In many ways, making that important “sale” is just the beginning — or, in the words of Gregory Deason, senior vice president of alliances and placemaking at Purdue University, “we have key company partners like Saab Aerospace, and Rolls Royce, that interact with Purdue on a variety of fronts; we want to make sure that any promises we may have made that convinced them to be here get met, and that we look for ways to deliver mutual value to the partnerships we have with them.”

“All these projects are so different and unique in nature it’s hard to categorize one size fits all,” adds Aric H. Bopp, CEcD, executive director of economic development and innovation zones in the Knowledge Enterprise Development unit at Arizona State University. “There are some companies we have existing relationships with prior to their location in our Innovation Zone — others, not as much. And some are entirely new to the university. We try to avoid the pitfall of over-promising; we call it managing expectations. These things take time; they do not happen overnight.”

“The way we do it is we put a single person in charge of the relationship — a relationship manager,” adds Kent Glasscock, president of the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization. “Their task is to work with the company to identify avenues of positive engagement which the company wants to pursue, and through the entire process of attraction we’re always focused on the desired benefits of the co-located partner and the university.”

The outreach considered so important when co-located companies arrive on campus “happens all the way through the process — from first engagement — because that’s our way of doing business,” says Glasscock, “So when co-location occurs, we already have in many respects a roadmap. As the company and we evolve that roadmap, the rules of engagement evolve as well. For instance, say we had a co-located firm and the firm wanted to — which all firms do — assess and attract talent into their company. We’d work with them on internships but do it in such a way that it is designed specifically to address the needs of the company. A fully engaged, co-located company is having a staff intern program that’s 12 months of the year. With an office on campus staffed by people from the company, they can attract interns, put them on real projects the company has, and work in collaboration with others in the company beyond the co-located office on campus or near campus. It’s worked out tremendously well.”

“One of the starting points goes back to understanding where success is most likely,” adds Deason. “A plot of land for a company like Saab could look like many others [on university campuses]. What makes them want to be in this location? It’s a talent question — not just to recruit but to retain.”

In other words, he continues, when he and his team think about recruiting for co-location, they begin by asking what makes the university different — “what we’re ranked highly and known for as a university.” The answer to that question, Deason says, “tells us where we’re likely to find success; we’re likely to go with industries that match up with what we’re good at.”

Bopp reiterates that not all co-located companies are ‘equal.’ “For big partners, proximity matters,” he notes. “They want convenience and community; for internships [for example], being close physically is a benefit.”

The head-scratchers, he continues, are companies that have co-located but are not really maximizing the potential benefits. “Maybe it’s just a real estate deal, and they like that these are attractive places to do business, but it’s a missed opportunity, and I want to target that,” he says.

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U of Louisville teams with Microsoft to explore AI in research


By David Schwartz
Published: May 17th, 2022

The University of Louisville has become the latest of a just a handful of schools selected by Microsoft to explore how artificial intelligence can be used to help researchers. continue reading »

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Webinar tomorrow: Critical university research compliance update on National  Security Presidential Memorandum NSPM-33


By David Schwartz
Published: May 17th, 2022

Compliance with federal research security regulations – particularly those related to improper foreign research influence – have been a major source of frustration and risk for universities and their research faculty.

The National Security Presidential Memorandum NSPM-33 may provide some relief and some clarity, but it also introduces new rules and new documentation, and an urgent need for compliance staff and university researchers to get up to speed on key compliance requirements.

What’s Next in Research Security Compliance? Considerations from the NSPM-33 Guidance to Federal Funding Agencies, scheduled for tomorrow, May 18th, will focus on the specifics of the NSPM-33 Guidance to Federal Funding Agencies, providing clear and effective rules for ensuring research security and defining researcher responsibilities. Using the NSPM-33 Guidance as a roadmap, our expert panel will explore what’s in store for research compliance, including specifics on conflicts of interest and commitment, digital persistent identifiers, and the role of faculty in research security regulatory adherence.

For complete program and faculty details or to register, click here.

Also coming soon:

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MIT inks five-year expansion of research deal with Commonwealth Fusion Systems


By David Schwartz
Published: May 17th, 2022

MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) has signed a five-year expansion of its research and education agreement with its own spinout, Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS). continue reading »

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Yogurt maker Chobani gifts $1M to U Idaho dairy research center


By David Schwartz
Published: May 17th, 2022

Well-known yogurt maker Chobani is making a $1 million gift to the University of Idaho-led Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (Idaho CAFE) to help fund construction of the nation’s largest research dairy. Their goal is to fund scientific research to ensure a sustainable future for the U.S. dairy industry. continue reading »

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Best Practices for Bolstering Economic Development and Building Your University’s Innovation Ecosystem


By David Schwartz
Published: May 17th, 2022

Universities worldwide are being called upon like never before to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and the commercialization of research — and to demonstrate the results of their efforts in terms of economic impact.

Jobs and regional economic growth have become some of the new metrics for corporate relations and tech transfer offices. But large scale economic development initiatives come with equally large challenges, and that’s why we’ve compiled best practice advice from six top university-driven economic development efforts in the practical collection Best Practices for Bolstering Economic Development and Building Your University’s Innovation Ecosystem. In this outstanding distance learning resource, you get these four programs plus more than 50 pages of program materials:

  • Session 1: Creating An Accelerator Furnace for University Technology: Arizona State’s Success Story
  • Session 2: How To Build and Nurture an Innovation District
  • Session 3: Start-Up Accelerator Best Practices: Speed the Launch of Sustainable Businesses
  • Session 4: Transform Your TTO Into an Economic Development Engine

Learn how leading universities have made big strides in boosting their regional economies, building out their innovation ecosystems, and getting more research out of the lab and into the marketplace. You get a digital package including on-demand video and PDF transcript, with unlimited access for you, your staff and faculty. For complete program and faculty details and to order, click here.

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Brock U offers industry partners “first date” trial partnerships for applied research


By David Schwartz
Published: May 17th, 2022

Canada’s Brock University is offering university partners a “first date” of sorts in a new initiative to fund joint university-industry applied research projects. continue reading »

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NC State students develop compostable take-out container in Eastman-sponsored project


By David Schwartz
Published: May 17th, 2022

Research partnerships that create real-world products are not the sole purview of top faculty, as illustrated by the recent experience of materials and specialty products company Eastman in sponsoring a student project.

The project tasked students with designing a prototype sustainable take-out food package to replace traditional plastic and foamed polystyrene containers end up that end up in landfills. Students in NC State’s College of Design worked alongside Eastman to create environmentally friendly alternative packaging using a new compostable material the multi-billion dollar company had created.

The students created take-out containers with the entire supply chain and the end user in mind, focusing on ease of assembly as well as packing, eating from, and disposing of the containers. The end result could make significant gains in sustainability for the restaurant industry.

The material itself is made from the cellulose of sustainably managed trees, a naturally biodegradable material. However, it looks and feels like traditional plastic. It is certified industrial and home compostable but maintains the ease and hygiene consumers prefer in single-use articles.

“This project really is about bringing sustainability to a market that has been overlooked for many years,” said Tsai Lu Liu, the head of the Department of Graphic Design and Industrial Design at NC State’s College of Design. “People go to a restaurant, bring home food and consume the food. Maybe you use the package for 20 or 30 minutes, and the next thing you know it goes into the trash can. Then it becomes an issue to the environment. We really see the potential to make a difference, to make food packaging more sustainable.”

​“Entirely too many single-use plastics are ending up on the side of the road, in waterways, and even in landfills where they’ll just persist for hundreds of years,” added Lizz Sapia, manager of Eastman’s Growth Process Steward Center of Excellence. “Current plastics aren’t a viable long-term option, but single-use plastics are here to stay from a consumer ease and hygiene perspective. Consumers love their plastics, but the research shows that they’re also concerned about the ultimate fate of these materials. The project with NC State looked at redesigning those single-use articles from a different material, one that’s compostable and has a better end-of-life story without compromising the consumer experience.”

The project’s timing could not have been better — it was completed during the 2018-2019 academic year, just before the COVID-19 pandemic reached the U.S. and prompted a massive surge in to-go food.

The students conducted thorough research before creating the packaging, including interviews with those who manufacture the packaging, restaurant workers who would handle and pack the take-out containers, and consumers who would eat from them.

“The surprising thing about the project was the different layers of who would be using the product,” said Kevin Milz, a student in the Master’s of Industrial Design program. “There’s Eastman, and then there’s Eastman’s customers — the fast food industry, which would be using these products. Then you’ve got to think of the people handling it — the restaurant employees — and how efficiently they can use this. Then you’ve got the end user, who is the person actually receiving the product. We had to think of all of these different levels.”

Senior design projects are a vital experience for many NC State students. Companies sponsor the projects, which students complete during the academic year. These projects weave together academia, industry, research and innovation. Students get a practical, hands-on learning experience that bolsters their skills and prepares them for the workforce. And companies benefit from students’ fresh perspectives and insight into new technologies.

“If you think it can’t be done, you should give it to a student because they don’t know that it can’t be done,” said Dawn Mason, Global External Innovation Manager at Eastman.

Source: NC State News

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Deakin U becomes one of Australia’s Trailblazer universities with $35M funding to drive green manufacturing


By David Schwartz
Published: May 17th, 2022

Deakin University will spearhead the largest recycling and clean energy advanced manufacturing ecosystem in Australia, thanks to AUS $50 million (nearly US $35M) in funding from the federal government’s new Trailblazer Universities Program, designed to push innovation and commercialization forward in the country’s academic centers. continue reading »

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UIDP Webinar: Tap into NSF Gen-4 Engineering Research Centers


By David Schwartz
Published: May 17th, 2022

The National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center (ERC) program supports convergent research that will lead to strong societal impact. This UIDP-hosted webinar, scheduled for June 27, 2022, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. EDT, will present information and best practices, as well as provide an opportunity for robust Q&A, in support of the current NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) NSF 22-580 solicitation.

The live Q&A with the seven-member NSF ERC program director team will address themes of interest to ERC principal investigator teams as well as the all-important industry/stakeholder community that collaborate with these ERCs. The awards for each new ERC amount to well over $50 million over a decade in support of themes that have the potential for societal impact, translation to the marketplace, and are centered around a systems engineering approach. There is no cost to attend.  Click here to register.

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Drexel, Lockheed Martin expand partnership with STEM co-op, incubator


By David Schwartz
Published: May 10th, 2022

A detailed article on the unique STEM co-op program offered via the Drexel-Lockheed Martin partnership appears in the April  issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For subscription information, click here. 

Drexel University and Lockheed Martin have inked an MoU that expands their decades-long partnership with several new initiatives, including a new STEM co-op program and the fall opening of an on-campus technology and innovation incubator devoted to the company. In addition, Drexel will expand its tuition discount program for Lockheed Martin employees who are interested in professional development and upskilling opportunities.

“Drexel and Lockheed Martin have a very long-standing relationship,” says Anna Koulas, vice president of the Drexel Solutions Institute. The Institute is specifically geared toward providing business solutions to the university’s corporate and non-profit partners, including talent pipelines, customized training and development programs, and interdisciplinary research-based solutions. “We have hundreds of alumni working for the organization, as well as recent graduates who participated previously in co-ops with them that now find themselves fully employed at the company.”

In addition to earlier co-op programs, Drexel has offered custom training solutions, Koulas says. “The bigger opportunity we see is the synergy between product service and innovation, as well as agile education — which enables us to support, train and upskill the talent Lockheed Martin will need for their future workforce.” This focus, she adds, will center on the specific skills future employees will need. “It will enable us to think about curriculum, and how adaptive it will need to be as we prepare the workforce of the future while also focusing on equity in STEM fields.”

That emphasis on equity, she continues, has evolved over time. “We’re thinking about the future of STEM education and its reach, while also being hands-on in practicality. One thing driving Drexel University is that we want our partners to help our students understand how they can find a role in their organization, by providing a better understanding for our students of what it’s like to work for these firms.”

Koulas asserts that the new expansion, as well as the earlier partnership activities, feed into each other. For example, she points out, advanced training for Lockheed Martin employees “has created opportunities to have synergy around research.” Specifically, Lockheed Martin and Drexel faculty will be exploring areas of collaboration in materials science, advanced communication systems and 3D modeling.

Co-op programs have existed at Drexel for over 100 years, since 1919, notes Ian Sladen, vice president for cooperative education and career development. “One of the great things in establishing this new MoU is that it builds upon a decades-long relationship with Lockheed Martin through our co-op education program.

“We’ve had hundreds of students go through the program,” says Sladen, “But this is more STEM-focused.” In fact, he says, the program has grown from its origin in engineering to over 80 majors, with almost 6,000 students a year participating.

“Companies like Lockheed Martin understand the value [of the co-op program] and have utilized it in a couple of ways,” he continues. “Because the six-month cycles back up to one another, one ends on a Friday and the next one starts on Monday. So, continuity is built into their employment structure; a new crop of talent will be exposed, and some do return to Lockheed Martin. That’s where the co-op element of the new MoU we’ve signed with them comes into play.”

At Drexel, he explains, undergraduates can do a four-year program with one six-month co-op in the third year. The vast majority, however, take the other option — a five-year program. “Lockheed’s idea is that we can further enhance the co-op experience for students, and in turn enhance the talent pipeline,” Sladen shares. “Now, we’ve offered a rotational option, whereby a student does a co-op, then they can be invited back [a second time] or even to a third co-op, and learn different components of the company and utilize different skillsets.” This rotational option, he explains, is a brand-new component of the program.

“We’re thrilled; this enhances the priority of a long-standing partnership, and we hope it enhances Lockheed Martin’s talent pipeline,” says Sladen. “It’s really growing out our relationship and leveraging existing infrastructure through co-education.”

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U Saskatchewan partners with agri-food industry on new upskilling program


By David Schwartz
Published: May 10th, 2022

Working with the non-profit organization Palette Skills and Winnipeg-based non-profit Enterprise Machine Intelligence and Learning Initiative (EMILI), the University of Saskatchewan (USask) is launching of the Automation and Digital Agriculture Specialist Program. Supported by a co-investment from Protein Industries Canada, the rapid upskilling program is designed to help employers in the agri-food sector find skilled talent to fuel the growth of their businesses. continue reading »

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