Nowadays, innovation represents the dominant factor of competitiveness, since it determines organisational growth and allows entrepreneurship to compete against the rest of the economic realities.
This is the reason why many companies adopt continuous innovation strategies for their products and services. The goal is to adopt a vision that engages both universities and businesses in an ambitious and constantly evolving innovative process. Let’s see together the innovative dynamics within the relationship between universities and companies.
UNIVERSITIES AND COMPANIES, INNOVATIVE DYNAMICS
The collaboration between universities and companies is strategic for the innovation and development of the country, precisely for the implementation of common projects that help the economic and social growth of the territories.
It is important for companies to hire young and qualified resources, with skills in line with the evolution of the corporate business and with solid academic foundations. These figures are able to encourage innovation and improvements.
In addition, companies get benefits from tax breaks and bonuses for hiring under an apprenticeship contract.
However, some obstacles and resistances remain and for this reason apprenticeship is a contractual tool that is not highly valued with respect to its potential.
A good solution is to increase institutionalisation and strengthen the dialogue between universities and companies. The didactic partnership, in fact, is a strategic investment for universities and businesses because it activates the circularity of knowledge that must be continuously fed, to keep at pace with the labour market and giving companies an innovation support.
The University has the ability to influence the innovative dynamics, since it creates connections with the entrepreneurial fabric and is not limited to the educational and research sphere, but supports the socio-economic development of the territory in which it operates, in line with the context of open innovation.
Among the main channels for enhancing public research there are academic spin-offs, companies created by universities, in order to put the results obtained from academic research into practice. The goal is to activate a policy aimed at promoting technology transfer, involving groups of researchers.
The academic spin-offs were born from sporadic initiatives of individual researchers who dedicated themselves to research and external consultancy. Later they were accepted and recognised by the universities, which began to adopt support measures for the production of goods and services to be placed on the market.
The spread of academic spin-offs is due to the fact they are a real point of contact between the business and academic world. They also have incredible economic strength, involving at least one researcher and other legal entities among the founders, such as businesses, financial institutions and incubators for innovation.
Through this positive exchange of skills, companies will take advantage of the work of researchers for commercial and industrial purposes, and academic spin-offs will benefit from the management expertise of companies.
By the introduction of the Law Decree n. 179/2012, the spin-off companies are recognised as innovative start-ups.
As regards the patent for inventions of university researchers, and not direct of universities, there is the so-called professor’s privilege. In fact, it is possible to decide not to declare the information through scientific publications or presentations at conferences, and protect it legally through patenting.
It often represents a high burden that the researcher cannot sustain or from which it does not derive any income. The consequence is a scarce support to university research and a debasement of the role of the researcher and the University.
To activate innovative projects that bring together universities and businesses, we use governance models capable of making the various parties interact according to their needs and investing in the methods of communication that bring shared value.
Operational units such as Industrial Liaison Offices or offices for technology transfer manage the University-business interface and contribute to the development of the territory. The concrete forms of collaboration concern research, consultancy or certification contracts, while the institutional ones are integrated with specific aggregative forms such as consortia or clusters (technological district). In these cases, the University is directly involved.
THE ECONOMIC STRENGTH OF THE ENTREPRENEURIAL AND ACADEMIC WORLD
Important initiatives and results have been obtained thanks to the creation of an effective synergy between universities, students, businesses and the world of work. More specifically, it is necessary to use the Higher Education and Research Apprenticeship to acquire highly qualified profiles and implement the so-called the digital transformation of companies.
Apprenticeship is a fast and effective tool for job placement, but must be promoted through the feedback of companies that share their experiences and through the creation of online communities.
The best strategy to increase the dissemination of Industrial Doctorate initiatives is the dissemination of best practices and the analysis of the results obtained through specific financing instruments. This initiative is growing significantly thanks to a number of companies involved in research and innovation activities.
Launching professional-oriented experimental degree courses, Italy has its own academically recognised model of professional tertiary education. The new 14 experimental degree courses activated in the 2018-2019 academic year lay the foundations for the creation of highly specialised figures that respond to the needs of companies and the demands of the labour market.
Currently over 30% of companies do not find the right graduates (especially for technical and scientific subjects) and many young people do not actually know the entrepreneurial environment and have difficulty finding a work.
The new emerging carriers will be the following:
The professional opportunities indicated in the degree courses are still in 2011 and do not take into account new professions. It is important to solve this information misalignment between universities and companies, to align the communication and bridge current the gaps.
University education must keep at pace with the constantly evolving demand for skills, to update the training systems with digital skills and soft skills necessary to improve the person’s attitude. With the help of companies, which must indicate what they need, the curricula of the degree courses, currently too rigid, must be modified in line with the society and technology changes and well in advance. In fact, a delayed response creates difficulties for students that must pursue the demands of the companies.