Much has been written lately about the trend of corporations sponsoring research at universities. A basic takeaway is that corporations should seek to align their university research relationships with their business goals. Corporations are urged to have “strategic” relationships with universities (Frølund, Murray, and Riedel 2017). But few discussions actually answer the central question: What goals should underpin an industry–university relationship that would have a bearing on business strategy? Corporations often have difficulty articulating their goals in clear terms. Still, it’s assumed that corporate business goals should dominate the relationship and that the firm should somehow find university partners who are able and willing to support them.
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