The Importance of Business and Academia Collaborations to Catalyse Innovation

The EUMMAS (European Marketing and Management Association) Women’s Forum, under the Leadership of Dr. Lidija Weis and the Vice Presidents Dr. Dina Yacout, and Lisa Leander, met on the 2nd of December 2021. The Event’s moderator, Phumza Dyani from the Pan African Network for Investment and Development based in South Africa, stimulated a discussion on how Academia can leverage Business relationships to develop relevant and impactful research. Secondly, the objective was to establish how Businesses can trust and leverage Academia more as a crucial research source to innovation. 

The most prominent Deans of Universities attended the Event from across the world. There was a vast array of experiences on how the different countries have fared in forging these relationships. The critical lessons were that all the nations were at various stages of forging these, and the following were important observations made by attendants:

  1. The role that Governments and National Agenda through national policies, played in recognizing the importance of this collaboration supported the success of these relationships. Countries that seemed to focus on innovation also seem to acknowledge the importance of Academic Institutions as sources of research and innovation cultures.
  2. Covid19 was a catalyst for ‘out of the box’ new thinking, and there was a need to expand beyond the commonly known practices. This prompted a need to source structured and tested research information to formulate recovery strategies in some countries.
  3. In some institutions, entrepreneurship was encouraged, and business partnership positions were encouraged voluntarily. This, in turn, attracted more business participation and investments into these institutions. Examples of these institutions have also established Innovation incubators that have kickstarted phenomenal innovation ideas.
  4. One crucial point was also using the research data for solving real-life problems. One of the Deans of the Business Schools illustrated how she uses statistical expertise in portfolio analysis and helps to provide real-life explanations to data. This has gained her the confidence of businesses in relying on her work to support business decisions.

The following points were raised for consideration:

  1. In most countries, it was noted that there need to be more incentives for research that could take the form of Special Grants and be structured in the form of Special clusters.
  2. While business and academia collaboration is crucial, it is essential to ensure Academic institutions do not detract from their primary purpose, which is being sourced for credible research. They must veer off being influenced by money and remain independent in thinking.