Czech Republic: Cooperation The Czech Strategy: Strengthening the Cooperation of Universities and Industrial Enterprises
How to improve cooperation between universities and industrial enterprises is a very important topic for the future of the economy of all developed countries.
At the same time it is a dangerous topic since its analogy in a well-functioning family is the discussion between partners on what is not good and what could still be improved, which could at the best lead to a discord between the husband and his wife. However the most fundamental issue is lack of mutual communication.
The basic drawback in cooperation is the poor knowledge of the partner´s opportunities and needs. An industrial enterprise needs to have a solution on schedule (project planning), and often very quickly, because it supplies its products and services to customers on the basis of contracts. A great contemporary problem of universities in the Czech Republic, and I dare say that also in other European countries, is the incomprehension of this basic necessity. If cooperation does not start at all, the supply of the required outputs including documentation is delayed often very excessively. Many of the university staff have absolutely no experience of working in an industrial enterprise (and often even of cooperation) and hence do not comprehend this basic need of practice. Professors are very frequently not able to respond effectively and rapidly to the demands of an enterprise even in the period of vacations and holidays.
Effective use of research results in practice
On the other hand an industrial enterprise is often encountered with a very complicated issue (this is why it presents it and does not deal with it itself). Any step in the solution of such a problem can be considered as a great success. Professors at universities often do not have enough knowledge which would enable them to deal with such complex issues in a period required for the fulfilment of the already delayed job order. Dealing with such issues requires long-term cooperation with successive partial goals. Of course professors at universities primarily have a lot of other tasks planned on a long-term scale and their free time is thus limited.
The basic question is what steps could improve the situation both in cooperation between industrial enterprises and universities and in general in the utilization of research results in practice and creation of the GDP. Most advanced countries including the USA and Japan dealt with and are still dealing with the described issues in cooperation and have found feasible ways how to cope with them.
Different types of cooperation
Above all players on both sides must know each other well. The second corroborative activity can be the processes of clustering university workplaces and groups of industrial enterprises. Examples from the USA present some models. One of them is when a professor at a university creates a laboratory and the results capture the interest of o group of industrial enterprises. These enterprises establish for the laboratory some sort of a fund which supports the operation of the laboratory and the enterprises associated in the group have preferential access to the outputs of the laboratory.
The second model is similar to the first one, however the laboratory in this case is selected and financed from public sources (grant agencies). The role of the state would surely be useful from the aspect of principles of association. The second role of the state would be in the support of innovative entrepreneurship and competitiveness of European industry everywhere where it is still ahead of its Asian competitors. This second role concerns legislation – regulations for adopting technical measures e.g. for safety in transportation, environmental measures, etc.
There are more relevant models of cooperation but the point is always that concord must be established between the needs and possibilities and ways found how to achieve it.
University officials must realize that industrial production enterprises are living organisms where people with different interests meet. External subjects are then linked with them.