On February 7th we were invited by Ghent University on Tech Lane Ghent Science Park in Gent. The theme of this meeting was science and industry collaboration. Corporates are reducing their investments in fundamental research, and therefore access to fundamental research has become even more important as it is fuel for the innovation funnels and therefore the future of companies.
We started with a presentation of the Tech Lane Ghent Science Park and learning about how science, start-ups, corporates and investors are working together there. They not only shared their current business model, but they also layed-out their thoughts about how this model will change in the near future. After a network lunch, we had three parallel discussion sessions, each addressing a specific challenge. The three themes were:
- Corporates continue to focus more upon market/ application driven research and expend fewer resources upon fundamental research. Academia is more than ever becoming the originator of fundamental research. How can corporates and academia more actively collaborate and steer a collective longer-term vision upon the direction of fundamental research. Research that is meaningful to both parties
- R&D especially in High-tech, Chemistry and Life science requires huge investments in equipment and infrastructure. Should you as a corporate always buy (and control) it yourself or is sharing a facility (and investments) on campuses with other corporates an option, even if this might require more openness in sharing knowledge? Do you need to control the hardware or only the data generated?
- As a campus, you would like to serve the regional ecosystem, however your startups need international exposure and funding to be able to become a successful scale-up. What is right balance between serving the regional economy versus offering international growth opportunities, resulting in successful startups leaving the nest? How does academia, early stage regional investor/ support networks measure success? For later stage investors, the measure of success is typically financial return.
Finally, there was a conducted tour of the Tech Lane Ghent Science Park and we saw several of the facilities.
Presentation: go to the member page