Nurturing Collaboration? A Skill Set for University-Industry Collaboration Champions.
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Project-based industry placement program is an important form of university-industry engagement. They provide opportunities to immerse students and researchers from university in the industrial working environment to collaborate on a specific project. A successful industry placement project brings benefits to both parties. Students and researchers from university can better understand business needs as well as the process of knowledge application in the workplace, enable practice of specific skills relevant to the subject domain, and generating insights for future research with a larger practical impact. At the same time, this collaboration promotes knowledge and technology transfer, bringing fresh momentum to industrial innovation and upskilling. Notwithstanding the potential benefits, the collaboration between academia and industry is not easy but complex, successful industry placement engagement requires champions from both sides as the driving force. The skills and competencies required to drive successful university-industry collaboration are important yet rarely studied. Therefore, this study elaborates the capability requirements of university-industry collaboration champions. Semi-structured interviews were designed and conducted with both researchers from university and practitioners from industry partners. Based on the data collected from interviews, supports and barriers were identified that are important to project-based industry placement programs. A skill set was further developed for university-industry collaboration champions with six skill requirements categorized under four types: foundation skill, transformational skill, network skill and integration skill. The skill set provides guidance and support for champions in their proactive initiatives for deepening university and industry symbiotic collaboration. As more benefits and deeper impact follow from greater collaboration and partnerships between academia and industry, this study highlights the need for constant investment in the skills and capabilities for the future of university-industry engagement.
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