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University-Industry Partnerships

Research collaboration between universities and industry 

University-Industry Partnerships

There are many schemes that foster communication and different forms of collaboration between academic research centres and industry. 

Some universities have set up their own Liaison Offices, each one particularly tailored to a university's own research priorities and strengths. The "Conseil des recteurs francophones" (Council of Francophone University Chancellors) has published a hand-book for how to set up an effective partnership. A number of different public funds are available for these kinds of collaborations.

University-Industry Liaison Offices

The role of these Liaison Offices is to:

  • Set up dialogue so as in to encourage collaboration between universities and industry;
  • Enhance the scientific and technical potential of universities;
  • Leverage skills from universities and research institutions to build the technological capacity of industry;
  • Enable industry to make use of the skills within the academic community and meet the economy's needs; 
  • Increase awareness with local and international companies of the research, skills and equipment within academia; 
  • Make universities more accessible to SMEs.

Here is the contact information of the Liaison Offices, which are organised in a network:

For the "hautes écoles", this work is delivered by the non-profit ADISIF:

University-Industry Partnerships Hand-Book

“Cref” has published a hand-book for enterpreneurs and researchers to increase awareness of the benefits of University-Industry Partnerships. 

It addresses the following questions, and more:​

  • Reasons for setting up a University-Industry Partnership
  • The characteristics of a successful Partnership
  • The stakeholders involved
  • Types of Partnerships
  • Contracts
  • How to set up a Partnership
  • How to manage a Partnership project
  • Public finance available for research in Partnerships

Funding sources

The main public funding sources that a University-Industry Partnership will be eligible for are: 

  • The "Services fédéraux de la recherche scientifique" (Belgian Portal for Research and Innovation) funds programmes to boost particular areas of research, bolstering government support in this sector. The federal government funds research in areas that are relevant to federal bodies, as long as it has the backing of the “Conseil fédéral de la politique scientifique”, and as long as the relevant stakeholders have agreed to collaborate on it. The research administrator sends out calls for projects.  
  • The Région wallonne funds research in industry that is subcontracting certain aspects to a university department. There are various types of funding:
    • Repayable loans: for applied research projects or to develop products or procedures that could be used in Wallonia;
    • Enterprise grants: for knowledge generation to enable the development of new products or procedures (basic industrial research); 
    • The FIRST Enterprise programme: for pre-competitive research, where the knowledge from a university department is made available to a company with the authorisation of the researcher(s) in question; 
    • The “FIRST-Doctorate in Industry” programme, for research sponsored by a company but carried out within a university laboratory;
    • The Environmental technology R&D incubation programme: for work on recycling, waste treatment, pollution, sound pollution;
    • Some more specialised programmes are: BIOVAL, EUCLID, EUREKA; BIOVAL, EUCLID, EUREKA;
    • Agreements for covering the fees associated with patenting and publishing the outputs of research. 
  • The Ministère de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale ("Institut d'encouragement de la Recherche Scientifique et de l'Innovation de Bruxelles/IRSIB") funds industrial basic research projects (pre-competitive). This support is given either as grants or as repayable loans, and can be awarded either to SMEs or to large companies. The IRSIB funds scientific research and technological innovation within industry, universities and "hautes écoles" in the "Région de Bruxelles-Capitale". Impulse Brussels (formerly ABE) also provides information on getting an entreprise off the ground and on finding public funding. 
  • The European Union L'Union européenne funds framework-programmes that are designed to deliver their scientific and technological goals (quality of life, a vibrant information society, competitive and sustainable development), to promote innovation in SMEs, and to boost human potential. Chapter 9 of the 6th framework-programme demonstrates the fact that the European Union prioritises innovation. Universities have participated in these programmes for a long time, and can, as partners, provide useful guidance to companies that are interested in getting involved but that don't have much experience of this kind of work. 
  • The Marie Curie Fellows' Association works to boost the training and career development opportunities for researchers in Europe by encouraging transnational mobility. They facilitate researchers’ mobility in order to help to create a strong European research area.
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