Tony Boccanfuso has spent the past 17 years trying to work out how to get universities and corporations to collaborate better on research.
Boccanfuso is the chief executive of UIDP, a non-profit association between large companies and leading research universities around the world. The invitation-only organisation has more than 200 members.
It all started with frustrations over negotiating sponsored research contracts, but UIDP’s work today goes beyond this. Boccanfuso tells us: “We tend to think about things in various verticals. … We also look at strategic engagement — how do you work comprehensively between organisations? — [and] we’re spending more and more time on talent and talent development and talent exchange.”
Among the guidance produced by UIDP is how to bring industrial PhD programmes to sectors outside of life sciences (where they are a common element) and educating the FBI on how foreign corporations might access research at a US university.
UIDP has also created much more ambitious programmes, such as an initiative focused on helping historically black colleges and universities in the US to become more research-intensive (which they have not traditionally been). And it is leading a US National Science Foundation-sponsored programme called Engineering Research Visioning Alliance, which is bringing together scientists, policymakers and others to drive engineering research in areas that benefit society.