Academia-industry symbiosis in organic chemistry.
Additional Document Info
Collaboration between academia and industry is a growing phenomenon within the chemistry community. These sectors have long held strong ties since academia traditionally trains the future scientists of the corporate world, but the recent drastic decrease of public funding is motivating the academic world to seek more private grants. This concept of industrial "sponsoring" is not new, and in the past, some companies granted substantial amounts of money per annum to various academic institutions in exchange for prime access to all their scientific discoveries and inventions. However, academic and industrial interests were not always aligned, and therefore the investment has become increasingly difficult to justify from industry's point of view. With fluctuating macroeconomic factors, this type of unrestricted grant has become more rare and has been largely replaced by smaller and more focused partnerships. In our view, forging a partnership with industry can be a golden opportunity for both parties and can represent a true symbiosis. This type of project-specific collaboration is engendered by industry's desire to access very specific academic expertise that is required for the development of new technologies at the forefront of science. Since financial pressures do not allow companies to spend the time to acquire this expertise and even less to explore fundamental research, partnering with an academic laboratory whose research is related to the problem gives them a viable alternative. From an academic standpoint, it represents the perfect occasion to apply "pure science" research concepts to solve problems that benefit humanity. Moreover, it offers a unique opportunity for students to face challenges from the "real world" at an early stage of their career. Although not every problem in industry can be solved by research developments in academia, we argue that there is significant scientific overlap between these two seemingly disparate groups, thereby presenting an opportunity for a symbiosis. This type of partnership is challenging but can be a win-win situation if both parties agree on some general guidelines, including clearly defined goals and deliverables, biweekly meetings to track research progress, and quarterly or annual meetings to recognize overarching, common objectives. This Account summarizes our personal experience concerning collaborations with various industrial groups and the way it impacted the research programs for both sides in a symbiotic fashion.