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Tips for researchers working with industry professionals

By: Roche Life Sciences

Posted: May 15, 2015 | Career & Lifestyle

Now more than ever, the public sector is joining forces with the private industry when it comes to life sciences research. According to the organization United for Medical Research, studies supported by the National Institutes of Health and other governing bodies worldwide are spurring private sector growth and innovation, especially with medical advancements.

The source looked into 10 private companies that thrived as a result of NIH-backed research, ranging from biotech behemoths to firms in the beginning stages of testing. These collaborations are proving that economic revenue growth and discovery can be attained through these dynamic partnerships.

Those new to the research community may need some pointers for how to make university-based research work well with industry professionals. Since these collaborations are becoming the norm, it's important to take these tips into consideration so that both groups can bridge the divide:

Take the problem-solving approach
Private industries are going to want solutions to problems, which is why they are conducting business-to-business transactions in the first place. This means that everyone involved in seeing research development succeed, from researchers to principal investigators to industry representatives, need to have a "cross-fertilization of ideas," according to the Science Business Innovation Board. These can be as informal as the parties want, but there need to be key scientific and technological parameters set in place that stick to the predetermined budget.

Understand that trust takes time
Setting up metrics for the relationship between industry professionals and researchers will likely prove unnecessary, as some of the most successful partnerships have developed organically. That's not saying there shouldn't be clear initiatives to discuss, no matter the research objective. Understanding where each partner is coming from is a great start, and make sure that if you do choose to set up metrics, they are based on quality and not quantity.

Maintain a focus on technology, design and engineering
Many of the world's greatest research developments have centered around this approach. Working across these important disciplines can allow the industry professionals to become more engaged because there are many ways that they can break down the advanced material researchers are investigating, whether it's assay development or more challenging ventures in areas like cancer research.

Be clear about intellectual property
These details can get a bit murky depending on your research grant and agreement. However, it's important to have an intellectual property framework set in place so that there is no time wasted over which institution owns a certain piece of intellectual property. According to the SBIB, a lot of companies tend to walk away from research facilities that are too inflexible with intellectual property despite how scientifically advanced the data is, so it's usually best to come in with the mindset that you are, in fact, in a partnership. 

Overall, keeping an open dialogue is going to be a valuable investment for an industry-researcher collaboration. Having principal investigators, researchers and industry professionals who understand both worlds can build a relationship that spurs innovation, drives revenue and fosters trust and structure


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