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Global Forum: Building Science, Technology, and Innovation Capacity for Sustainable Growth and Poverty Reduction. Presentation on: Designing University- Industry Linkages (UILs) Programs in Thailand by Peter Brimble Asia Policy Research Co., Ltd. E-mail:

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Global Forum: Building Science, Technology, and Innovation Capacity for Sustainable Growth and Poverty Reduction

Presentation on:

Designing University-

Industry Linkages (UILs)


in Thailand


Peter Brimble

Asia Policy Research Co., Ltd.


The World Bank

February 13-15, 2007

structure of presentation
Structure of Presentation
  • University-Industry Linkages: A Framework for Analysis
  • University-Industry Linkage Development in Thailand
  • Firm-Level Perspectives: Specific Approaches Towards UILs of Selected Companies in Thailand and Relative Effectiveness
  • University-Level Perspectives: UILs in the Thailand Higher Education Centers of ExcellenceExperiences and Lessons Learned
  • UILs in Thailand: A Summing Up
university industry linkages context for analysis
University-Industry Linkages:Context for Analysis
  • A key element of the industrial development process – and moves to strengthen competitiveness
  • Global and regional economies undergoing unprecedented change and integration
  • Universities facing tremendous pressures to reform and redefine their role
  • Thai firms not strong on linkage development and the Thai business environment generally not conducive to competitiveness enhancing linkages – a key supply-side issue that might finally bring down Thai manufacturing
university industry linkages a macroeconomic perspective
University-Industry LinkagesA Macroeconomic Perspective
  • Supplier Pressures
  • Global Education Trends
  • Internationalization of Knowledge
  • Human Resource Shortages
  • Financing Reductions


Public and Private


Direct Feedback


Indirect Feedback

and Support

Non-traditional Supplies

of Training, Services,

and Research


Human Resources


Labor Market Signals


The Productive Sector

  • User Pressures
  • Rapid Technological Change
  • Higher Domestic Resource Costs
  • Increasing Global Competition
  • and Integration

Traditional Loop

Non-Traditional Loop

university industry linkages lessons from international studies
University-Industry Linkages: Lessons from International Studies
  • Commitment from top management and all stake-holders
  • Appropriate linkage program managers
  • Programs based on entrepreneurial foundations and well thought-out development plan
  • Relate to core functions of university; and involve elements of more than one function
  • Focus on building credibility between university and productive sectors
summary the good news
Summary: The Good News
  • High level awareness of needs for UILs in both public and private sector.
  • Post-1997 recognition: reliance on cheap labor and foreign investment not a sustainable strategy
  • Many initiatives and reports within ministries and specific sectors.
  • Proliferation of RTOs – research technology organizations.
summary the not so good news
Summary: The Not-So-Good News
  • Overall UILs surprisingly thin
  • Those that exist usually involve low levels of technology.
  • Benefits to either side not clear
  • Weakly institutionalized:
    • Short duration
    • Individuals rather than departments
    • Mostly training/education; little services/consulting or research
    • Some positive cases, but little evidence of system-wide diffusion of lessons and benefits.
real potential to develop uils does exist
Real Potential to Develop UILs Does Exist
  • Government much more attentive to needs of “real economy” than in past, e.g. clusters in textiles, autoparts, agro, etc.
  • Despite differences, potential to learn from positive cases: shrimp, garments, HDDs
    • Industry vulnerability
    • Public sector interest in promoting export potential of sector
    • Strong organization or lead firm to overcome industry fragmentation
      • CP / shrimp; Seagate / HDDs; TGMA / garments (but still upstream-downstream conflicts); Contrast with sugar
    • Cadres of academics/scientists for whom industry problems are interesting and career-enhancing challenges
    • Public or quasi-public facilitator (e.g. BIOTEC, DEP)

The Demand Side:Specific Approaches Towards UILs of Selected Companies in Thailand and Relative Effectiveness

the demand side lessons learned from thai firms
The Demand Side: Lessons Learned from Thai Firms
  • Thai firms generally not strong on UILs
    • Protection and low levels of competitive threats
    • In-house approaches or informal connections
  • Low levels of cohesion within and among sectors/associations; focus on lobbying; inability to reconcile interests of members
  • Bureaucratic fragmentation a key supply-side issue; combined with weak SME policies and lack of support for UIL initiatives
  • Successes tend to be in cases where larger firms have faced serious pressures:
    • Shrimp industry – its vulnerability, foreign exchange earning potential, CP leverage, etc.
    • Seagate in hard disk drives
    • Large garment exporters
indicators of effectiveness of uils
Indicators of Effectiveness of UILs
  • UILs must be backed up by the full commitment and involvement of top management and representatives from all the stake-holders
  • The persons assigned to manage the linkage programs, either in universities or the public sector must have some experience with industry as well as a flair for dealing with the private sector
  • The linkage programs that are developed must be based on entrepreneurial foundations, both of university staff and of private industry, with a well thought-out development plan
  • The most important issue of trust, related closely to credibility
observations on thai case studies seagate the uil star
Observations on Thai Case StudiesSeagate: The UIL Star
  • Independent long-term linkages
    • Consortium for automation engineers
    • Strong support to cooperative training program
    • First and only R&D labs at Thai universities – Khon Kaen and Suranaree University of Technology
    • A leader of IDEMA (see later)
  • Seagate completely different from other drive companies – not sure why
  • No real interest from government officials on any of the innovative models Seagate has pursued
  • Basic rationale linked into competitive developments in the industry
observations on thai case studies idema and the thai hdd cluster
Observations on Thai Case StudiesIDEMA – and the Thai HDD Cluster
  • Formation of the HDD Cluster marked a major change in government policy to the industry:
    • Careful looking at university resources
    • Collective action and cooperation
    • Government interest and support
  • A wide range of cluster strengthening projects ongoing – all involving UIL elements
  • Visual inspection software project a good example

The Supply SideUILs in the Thailand Higher Education Project Centers of ExcellenceExperiences and Lessons Learned

introduction to the seven centers
Introduction to the Seven Centers
  • Established around 6 years ago
  • A project funded by the Asian Development Bank and Thai government
  • Consortiums of universities in Thailand selected in a competitive manner in a bidding process
  • Strong inputs from universities abroad
  • Focusing on graduate study and research
  • All with an explicit objective to link with industry
critical success factors csf for uils in the seven centers


Development Periphery




of UIL


Interaction with Academic Core


Critical success factors (CSF) for UILs in the Seven Centers
university industry linkages in thailand the status and constraints
University-Industry Linkages in Thailand: The Status and Constraints
  • University-Industry Linkages generally weak or non-existent in all aspects
  • A significant "credibility gap“ between industry and academia
  • Bureaucratic regulations and attitudes
  • Insufficient understanding about intellectual property rights
  • Lack of adequate channels for communication and mechanisms for information exchange
  • Inadequate incentives and financial support

Two recent quotes on Thai UILs:

1. “Lots of initiatives, "lots of flowers blooming," but no critical mass”

2. “Scattered initiatives that "didn't add up" and were not supported by any benchmarks or evaluation data” Brimble and Doner, 2005

a strategic for uils in thailand and elsewhere principal elements
A Strategic for UILs in Thailand (and elsewhere): Principal Elements
  • Incorporate UIL concept into university reforms
    • a key element of autonomy/financial diversification
    • a critical component of outreach strategies
  • Promote “life-long learning” from both sides
  • Develop information technology infrastructure
  • Directly promote UILs
    • technical and advisory support
    • financial and fiscal incentives for UILs
    • fiscal support for corporate philanthropy
  • Incorporate into regional/global cooperation initiatives
university industry linkages

University-Industry Linkages

Building Partnerships for Development