I have some difficulty accepting the basic premise that collaborations between businesses and universities fail because academics don’t understand the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (“Think business, not ‘shiny things’”, News, 30 July).
The article says: “Ben McLeod, senior associate at Beauhurst, said the ‘cultural differences’ between businesses and academics were huge: academics enjoy asking questions and creating ‘new shiny things’ but small and medium-sized enterprises are ‘driven by profit’ and ‘creating a business that creates revenue and drives a product into the market’.”
Bearing in mind the sample size – 30 SMEs – these comments about the different motivations of academics and SME owners and managers would seem more like opinions than sound, survey-based conclusions. They certainly ignore the many commercial spin-offs from universities and the many social enterprises that flourish in the SME sector.
My experience is that factors such as timescales (responsiveness) and cost base both also have a significant influence on the ability of the two organisations to work together.