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Helping to bridge the academic-industry gap

01 September, 2023

The are many potential benefits for both sides from closer collaboration between industry and academics. As Nikesh Mistry*, Gambica’s sector head for automation, explains, the organisation has been acting as an intermediary to help bridge the gap between these sectors.

We face many gaps in our industry today that need to be bridged. These include, for example: the gap between the OT and IT; the skills gap; the unemployment gap; the gap in investment in digital technologies; and more.

One important gap that we are aiming to help close at Gambica is the one that exists between academia and industry. I have written previously about our Gambica University and Industry Collaboration Council initiative and the work that we are doing to help bridge the gap. 

Collaboration between universities and industry is essential for driving innovation and economic growth. Universities have the expertise and resources to conduct cutting-edge research, while industry has the need for new technologies and solutions to solve real-world problems. By working together, these two sectors can accelerate the development of new products and services, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for people within them, as well as in the wider world.

Our Council has four main working areas: collaborative research; university linkages; STEM; and policy. These are areas that we felt Gambica members would be able to influence directly via our network of experts.

For universities, this could deliver access to research funding, opportunities to collaborate with industry experts, a chance to test and validate research findings in real-world settings, and a way to translate research into products and services that can benefit society. 

For industry, we believe the initiative will give them access to cutting-edge research, find methods to solve problems that are too difficult or expensive for them to solve on their own, gain competitive advantage through refined research and diversification and, most importantly, provide a route for them to attract and retain top talent for their workforces. 

When we ran a launch event, called The Blueprint, in September 2020, we noticed there were still gaps in understanding between the two sectors. For example, universities often focus on long-term research, while industry is more focused on short-term results. This can lead to disagreements about the goals and objectives of any collaborations. Additionally, universities and industry often have different cultures and ways of working, which can make it difficult for them to collaborate effectively.

This is where we believe that our access to manufacturers, and through the sharing of best practice, we could mediate these relationships through events such as conferences, workshops and networking opportunities. The scope for collaboration is very broad and includes: funding; knowledge sharing and transfer; research, innovation and product development; commercialisation; curricular relevance – degree and post-graduate courses; student scholarships; industrial placements; and graduate employability.

A lot has been accomplished by our working groups over the past three years. To champion this, we are hosting a free event on 14 September at Cranfield University. Called Collaborate!, it will celebrate our accomplishments so far, as well as acting as a forum for industry and academics to contribute to our future direction and focus. 

Ultimately, the success of university-industry collaboration depends on the willingness of both sectors to work together and overcome the challenges that they face. By working together, these two sectors can create a brighter future for everyone.

Clearly the reason for this event is to define our goals and to demonstrate the objectives of our collaboration. There will be a packed agenda of case studies and guest speakers, as well as tours of the university’s facilities. If you would like to find out more about the University and Industry Collaboration Council and its activities, then get in touch with myself or another member of Gambica staff and we will help you to understand ways in which you could get involved. 

* Gambica is the trade association for the automation, control, instrumentation and laboratory technology sectors in the UK. You can get in touch with Nikesh Mistry on 020 7642 8094 or nikesh.mistry@gambica.org.uk, or via the Gambica Web site: www.gambica.org.uk 




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