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Overcoming Cultural Chasms: Maximizing Innovations for Smaller University/Industry Partnerships Penn State Harrisburg: Office of Research PI: Marian R. Walters Co PIs: Stephen Fonash, Patrick Welch, Richard Fluck, Walter Chromiak.

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Overcoming Cultural Chasms:

Maximizing Innovations for Smaller University/Industry Partnerships

Penn State Harrisburg: Office of Research

PI: Marian R. Walters

Co PIs: Stephen Fonash, Patrick Welch, Richard Fluck, Walter Chromiak

NSF Award #IIP-0917466 2 Year Award Start Date: September 15, 2009

Key Attributes of our Innovation Ecosystem:

Brief Project Overview:

This NSN-PFI project will provide mechanisms to enhance smaller college/industry partnerships in Central PA . Frequently cultural differences exist between industry and university settings that are major barriers to forming partnerships for innovation. In addition, faculty from different universities, even nearby institutions, fail to meet and/or develop collaborations due to their heavy workloads. This project addresses these issues though several mechanisms.

Questioning & Curiosity:

We will capitalize on these attributes in both colleges/universities and industry partners as we develop resources to expand collaborations between them.

Program Activities:

  • Gather and disseminate information about faculty research interests

  • (2) Collaborative conferences

  • (3) Partnership training

  • (4) Seed funding for collaborative projects

  • (5) Comprehensive intellectual property infrastructure support

  • Intellectual Merit: Newly formed partnerships will advance innovative technologies as a result of breadth and depth of expertise, sharing of intellectual and physical resources, and rigorous internal and external evaluation procedures.

  • Broader Impacts: Closing of regional industry/university collaboration barriers, outreach to thousands of faculty and tens of thousand of students, multiple dissemination strategies, and geographic and ethnic diversity.

Risk Taking:

The training mechanisms we employ will minimize concerns about risk-taking in partnerships between colleges/industry collaborators.

Openness:

Training and opportunities to learn one anothers’ strengths (ex. in collaborative conferences) will build trust and openness among potential partners.

PFI EnerG Symposium, Nov. 13, 2009: Keynote Speaker Stephen Brawley, Pres & CEO, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA “Best Practices in University/Industry Partnerships”

Collaboration Across Fields:

The multi-pronged approach to developing these partnerships is designed to enhance collaboration across fields, both among college/university faculty and between them and industrial partners.

Economic and Societal Impact: Regional innovative partnerships lay the foundation for new jobs and

increased productivity that helps stabilize the economy, which helps secure societal freedom.

Partners:

Academic: Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, Dickenson College, Elizabethtown College, Franklin and Marshall College, Harrisburg Area Community College, Harrisburg University of Science & Technology, Lebanon Valley College, Messiah College, Millersville University, Shippensburg University, Penn State University (Graduated Partner).

Industrial Partner: Gannett Fleming, Inc..

Economic Development Partners: Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA, Ben Franklin Venture Investment Forum, Capital Region Economic Development Corporation, Harrisburg Market Keystone Innovation Zone, Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central PA, Technology Council of Central PA, James Street Improvement District, Innovation Transfer Network.

Placing Partners in “New Environments” & “Playgrounds”:

Opening doors, allowing “questioning and curiosity”, building trust will allow greater flexibility for the partners as they explore “new environments and playgrounds”.

Top Contributions:

1. Link small college/universities with small corporate partners to advance commercialization projects; overcome communications differences and other “cultural chasms” between these groups

2. Assemble a “research resource inventory” of items/resources that might be shared across the college/university partners and with corporate partners.

3. Provide academic symposia on research topics of interest to faculty across the colleges/universities and use them to acquaint potential corporate partners with faculty expertise.

Leading/Inspiring for Surprising or Unexpected Results:

Negotiating partnerships where faculty may be more used to dealing with unexpected results than industry will be part of the challenge in this process.

Top Challenges:

1. Convincing some faculty of the value of developing corporate partnerships.

2. Establishing communication lines to and credibility with individual faculty.

3. Conflicting priorities across the participating institutions.

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PFI

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National Science Foundation Partnerships For Innovation

Grantee’s Meeting April 25-27, 2010 Arlington, VA


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