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Why participate in an H2020 consortium (part 2): Academic perspective

May 09 2018

In a previous blog post, we described the potential benefits for both industry and academia for participating in a PPP. However, even with these benefits, we have noticed that there are still barriers perceived by both industry and academia which discourage engagement in such partnerships. Here we describe the most important barriers perceived by academia.

Barriers perceived by academia

In part 1 of this series, we discussed the SME perspective, here we describe the most important barriers perceived by academia.

Assumed benefits of disseminating knowledge [1][3][4]

Commercialisation and knowledge protection versus knowledge dissemination is the biggest issue for an academic. Main objective for academics is often to increase knowledge and share results publicly in scientific publications. On the contrary, industry values knowledge possession in the form of protected and commercial patents. By affiliating with industry, academics are often afraid the public and their academic peers might view their research as biased. However, both academics and commercial companies in the life sciences have a shared goal; improve patient’s lives. While the routes towards this goal may seem different, the processes are highly interwoven and to reach highest impact both parties need each other. Often, commercialisation is the best way to move forward, which can be realised in a PPP. 

Lack of willingness by industry partners to collaborate [3][4]

Before starting a partnership, academics often perceive a lack of willingness by industry to actually collaborate and spend time on this collaboration. It is important to realise that industry acknowledges academic researchers as the fundament for any industry: it is academic innovation that helps their industry forward. Thus, their willingness to collaborate is as high as yours. Clearly defining the shared goal helps in creating urgency for all partners to collaborate closely.

Language and culture [1][2]

Coming from different worlds, collaborators from industry and academia can understandably clash in terms of their language and organisational culture. Moreover, the academic may experience difficulties in transferring their knowledge to a non-specialist commercially oriented partner. Before engaging in a project everything will be discussed and consolidated in the Grant Agreement (within the Horizon 2020 framework). This includes definition of academic and commercial milestones. Goals and deadlines should be clearly defined such that every party can work in their desired way. Moreover, a strong project leader who ‘speaks all languages’ is essential in interdisciplinary collaborations to ensure smoothest collaboration possible.  

In life science collaborations, the common goal is to improve patient’s lives: make sure the focus remains on this goal. In general, PPPs are most successful when significant trust has been built between the partners. Take your time to do this at the start of a project, and ensure you are building a sustainable innovative environment.

Request assistance

Convinced that you, as a life science researcher, should participate in a PPP? Great! Consult our website to find more resources on how to establish great collaborations and tips on how to ensure successful grant writing. Find the right partnership opportunity for you in the Life Sciences Funding Database. Get in contact with us to see what we can do for you.


[1] Faber, J., van Dijk, J., & van Rijnsoever, F. (2015) Incentives and barriers for R&D-based SMEs to participate in European research programs: An empirical assessment for the Netherlands. Science and Public Policy, 1-15.

[2] Shen, Y.C. (2017) Identifying the key barriers and their interrelationships impeding the university technology transfer in Taiwan: a multi-stakeholder perspective

[3] Bruneel, J., D’Este, P., & Salter, A. (2010) Investigating the factors that diminish the barriers to university-industry collaboration. Research Policy, 39, 858-868.

[4] Braun, S., & Hadwiger, K. (2011) Knowledge transfer from research to industry (SMEs) – An example from the food sector. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 22, S90-S96.

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