Industry University Linkages – Challenges and Opportunities

Pakistan is a developing nation that can generate surplus amount of wealth from Industry academia linkages (IAL). It possesses a wide range of benefits that can influence universities, companies, society and nation. The benefits relating to society through IAL are numerous.

It promotes innovation in a society that leads to generation of new products and technologies. The research supported by the industry facilitates the development of practical appliances and applications which have a positive influence on society. Society is advanced by IAL as the products generated through IAL give rise to applications such as new and improved medical equipment, new diagnostic tests for various diseases, therapeutic solutions, energy efficient appliances, electrical technologies, advanced gadgets such as computers and storage devices, smart devices and many more.

IAL can act as a breeding ground to promote development of new industries that can stimulate a competitive advantage for Pakistan globally. The per captia income, taxes duties can increase by the IAL. The higher education institutes are highly benefitted from IAL. The interaction with the industry is strongly based on the intention to accrue the university. Academic research is carried out keeping in mind the societal needs gains valuable appreciation from industry. The industry facilitates practical aspects of research through financial rewards, patents and licensing for commercialization. By adopting such strategy the financial needs of the university are well met and also help university to decrease the gap produced by the governmental funding. The industrial-academia collaboration helps in the generation of patents that are beneficial for both parties. Academia can use this patent generated revenue for the betterment of institutional facilities, teaching and other non-market oriented goals. The industry can use patents to enhance productivity and other market related goals.

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Moreover, the IAL enables universities to gain access to scientifically advanced equipment not present at university. Access to the cutting edge equipment enables researchers to explore the complexities of a given scientific problems more extensively and produce external funds to add more research publications. A combination of advance machinery and publications can increase the reputation of an institute. This in turn helps the university attract bright minds, legitimacy and have their claim on government based funds. The ratio of future employment of an institute is also increased by the IAL.

The companies are also benefited by the IAL. It helps them to develop research program, development of innovative products, rapid commercialization of the product and increase international economic competition. The reputation of a company and prestige is also enhanced by the IAL. This mediated joint publications between industry and academia is employed as a tool by company to gain popularity in public relations and can become industry leaders. Companies can strengthen their R&D section through IAL.

However, considering the benefits there are many disadvantages associated with IAL that can be lethal for economic growth. A researcher only tries to validate his research for peer review and for future reference and is completely unaware of the marketing aspects. Therefore, for economic growth of a country the link between IAL is indispensible but there are certain glitches which might become disadvantageous for both parties. Legal disputes, high profile agreements and unable to set research agenda are the three major disadvantages of IAL. These elements limit the productivity of a researcher and confine them in a limited academic freedom. Ownership issues also trigger similar doubts in the academic faculties and institutes employ the formal relationship to get rid industry intervention.

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The benefits relating to society through IAL are numerous. It promotes innovation in a society that leads to generation of new products and technologies

The company assumes that the research generated by the university researchers contains proprietary information. Extension in publication is the cruelest aspect of IAL as it deprived a scholar to present his research publically due to proprietary information. This can lead to two schools of thoughts one who appreciate the results and other fear that prestige of the company might lost if the unfavorable results are published. In such scenario a potentially lethal drug may run into market and create harmful situation for the patients industry linkages. Corporations are concerned with their market edge, and they may require that university researchers not publish studies from their sponsored research activities Commercial enterprises are more competitive than academic interests as a company must find a way to secure its niche with a new product. Altogether IAL is a double edged sword that needs to be employed in such a way that both partners are profited. In Pakistan this concept has begun to take shape with the help of HEC.

The University industry technology support program (UITSP) launched by HEC is trying to bridge the gap between industry and academia. This program focuses on enhancing world trade by wielding industry and academia. UITSP promotes scholars from various backgrounds to join hands with industrial partners and extend productivity of desired industrial sector through learning and innovation. The main focus of UITSP is to support and enhance those products and areas relevant to national needs and socio-economic needs of the country. UITSP is harnessing the intellect of academia and cutting edge tech of industry to rise the per captia income of Pakistan and to increase competitiveness of local market to international standards. The objectives of UITSP are to promote trade globalization, policies to enhance trade, streamline the global trade trend, to increase trade competitiveness and to provide academia with the opportunity to raise their competitiveness to international standards.

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It seems to be an important initiative to trigger the interplay between Industry and Academia. This collaboration will lay stress on the demands of the product,industry linkages processes and applications necessary for raising national economy of Pakistan. Conclusively for any country to progress IAL is mandatory industry linkages. There are a number of factors which directly or indirectly affects IAL. Technological advancements, endowments by the institutes and their commitment to enhance IAL define the basic framework and innovation policy program for a favorable collaboration. In Pakistan IAL is poorly represented resulting in lack of coordination and shrinking economy. It is the responsibility of the industrial sector to come forward and address their problems and academia must open their gates for industrial executives to transform their small scale experimental products to large massive socially benefitting products. It is also the responsibility of the government to design and select policy that serve the nation in the best possible way. She should take in loop all the stake holders and explain to them the current needs of the nation and what could be done to increase the trade. It is the time when industries, academia and government make complex choices that could tie a befitting collaboration between research and commercialization.

While this article lays stress on the IAL still more emphasis is needed on the development of policies and programs that can support IAL, collaboration between educationists and industrialists. These industry linkages policies will not only change the socio-economic condition but also increase the productivity and progress of the developing countries including Pakistan.

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