Importance of Academia-Industry Linkage
It is often debated that academia-industry linkages are advantageous for innovation performance and for sustaining economic growth of a nation. There should be intensive interaction between industries and academic institutions, including universities and research institutions that bring together different expertise from different innovators. Such linkage has been very successful in most of the western and developed countries.
In the Asian giants also this trend is getting stronger. In South Asian region India has strongly emphasized on such linkages. India is a bit ahead in this race among South Asian nations. Pakistan is also focusing on this issue for the creation of synergies between Industry and the research institutions/universities.
This linkage is necessary for commercially driven work and its outputs. Academia can lend easy access to knowledge to the industry for conduction applied research. In turn, the technology produced by the industry can be used by the Academia to carry out the basic research on a more detailed and extended level. Secondly, by enhancing close interaction of research institutions, an added advantage can be achieved that would be in the form of exploitation of their production and outcomes.
Academic institutions differ from industries with respect to their innovation goals and how they innovate. They focus predominantly on basic research to extend and deepen the existing stock of basic knowledge and technologies and they are, in general, willing to share their findings with the public by, for example, publishing them in scientific journals. In contrast, the ultimate goal of profit maximization forces industries to focus more on applied R & D to introduce innovative products into markets, using the basic knowledge and technologies which they wither have explored on their own or have obtained from external sources such as academic institutions.
In general industries may obtain innovation-related knowledge and technologies from academic institutions through engaging in the following three types of academia-industry linkages;
1. Industries can take academic institutions as their sources to acquire patents and licenses developed by academic institutions, to search for academic consultancy or
2. They can take academic institutions as their innovation partners. In this case, they financially support academic research or directly undertake joint research projects with academic institutions.
3. They take academic institutions only as training bases. It means that they directly hire students or graduates and attract researchers to join their research teams to enrich their innovation capabilities.
Looking at Nepalese scenario of academia-industry linkages, academic institutions do not yet play important roles as innovation sources or innovation partners. On the other hand Nepalese industries invest very less in R & D in their own setting.
In the Pharmaceutical sector in Nepal some of the industries are very forward to invest in such linkages. One of the examples is Nepal Pharmaceutical Private Limited (NPL) which is ahead in league table in establishing such linkages. Some of the other Nepalese pharmaceutical industries are also coming up to establish such linkages which is quite encouraging.
There may be various factors for not placing such linkages on higher priority in Nepal. Some of the influential factors could be such as not industry friendly government policy for investment in R& D in science and technology sector, mismatches between the knowledge and technologies provided by academic institutions and the real needs of industries or inefficient communication between academic institutions and Industries.
Most importantly, for overall development of nation, we need political stability & firm governmental commitment and proper policies to encourage investment in R & D by industries either in their own setting or in academia.
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