City Think

Industry-Academia Linkage: A source of knowledge creation, innovation and economic growth

Over the years, industry-academia collaboration has enhanced knowledge, innovation and played an integral part in the economic growth of developed countries. The linkage of academia and industry has a strategic role in developing critical skills required by industry (both production and service sector), generation, acquisition, and adoption of knowledge, and in promoting entrepreneurship (start-ups and spin-offs).Similarly, the expansion of market driven research and innovation at university level can be utilized at industrial level to foster commercialization.
The objectives of such linkages can vary on the basis of its scope and agreement between university and industry. They may involve in high intensity linkage to low intensity linkage (Perkmann and Walsh 2007)

In developed countries, these linkages have been mutually beneficial for industry and academia. The interaction between industry and academia has been a key for economic growth in developed world. The focus of academia has to be on the current needs and market trends. Unless industry and academia is not on the same page, there will always be a mismatch between the skills and knowledge required at industry and the graduates produced by universities. In Pakistan, the IAL situation is not encouraging. There is tremendous gap between the knowledge produced and knowledge required by the industry. Pakistan's local trade and industry needs effort in competing with international companies and also to gain competitive advantages from China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Pakistani firms not only need to compete at local level but also need to compete at global level. This is not possible without a strategic alliance of universities and industry. However, there are significant challenges that need to be addressed.
There are mainly three facets of university i.e. teaching, research and entrepreneurship. Teaching universities requires support of industries in designing their curriculum and support in students/graduates placement. Research based universities requires support of industry to channelize their research activities with respect to local needs and to take advantage from technological advancement. Furthermore, the entrepreneurial universities require support of industry in developing business incubation services and in promoting entrepreneurship education. However, university cannot achieve these objectives without support of industry. Universities create knowledge and unless that knowledge is not based on the industrial need, it is of no use. Similarly, the research and area of research needs to be associated with the current market problems and needs. Thus, without an active role of industry it is not possible. Moreover, market trends and areas for innovation and commercialization can be addressed by joint collaboration of industry and academia. Therefore, the cooperation and collaboration of academia and industry is crucial for economic growth and sustainability. Moreover, this collaboration cannot sustain nor develop without intercession from the chamber of commerce. Industry-academia linkages (IAL) provide the basis for a strong innovation system. A strong IAL ensures that the research and development activities in universities are oriented towards demand in the market and in the society; it provides enabling environment for increased creativity for new comers and guarantees the enhanced competitiveness.
Encouragement of industries for knowledge based product development, innovation strategy based on scientific research and sharing of industrial problems to the academicians for finding appropriate solution Forcing industries to establish in-house R&D units or university R&D units, where professors and scholars engage in research activities. Industrial strengthening requires consultancy, scientific guidance and its R&D improvement. Besides, collaborating the academic R&D units, in-house R&D centres, not only, strengthen the industrial performance but also can keep update the quality of the product.
Chamber of commerce has to play a significant role and it needs to act as a frontline party in developing a strong linkage. Bringing industry and academia is a challenging task. The goals, objectives and motives of both parties may vary from each other. For example; universities may want to collaborate with industry for improvement of teaching, access to funding, reputation enhancement, and access to empirical data from industry. While the motive behind industry to connect with academia may be to gain access to complementary technological knowledge (including patents and tacit knowledge), tapping into a pool of skilled workers, providing training to existing or future employees, gaining access to the university's facilities and equipment, gaining access to public funding and incentives; firms may also seek to reduce risks by sharing the costs of R&D, and to influence the overall teaching and research agenda of universities.