Overcoming Cultural Chasms:

Overcoming Cultural Chasms:
Maximizing Innovations for Smaller University/Industry Partnerships
Penn State Harrisburg: Office of Research
PI: Marian R. Walters
Co PIs: Stephen Fonash, Patrick Welch, Richard Fluck, Walter Chromiak
NSF Award #IIP-0917466
2 Year Award
Start Date: September 15, 2009
Brief Project Overview:
This NSN-PFI project will provide mechanisms to enhance smaller college/industry partnerships in Central
PA . Frequently cultural differences exist between industry and university settings that are major barriers to
forming partnerships for innovation. In addition, faculty from different universities, even nearby institutions,
fail to meet and/or develop collaborations due to their heavy workloads. This project addresses these
issues though several mechanisms.
Program Activities:
(1) Gather and disseminate information about
faculty research interests
(2) Collaborative conferences
(3) Partnership training
(4) Seed funding for collaborative projects
(5) Comprehensive intellectual property
infrastructure support
Questioning & Curiosity:
We will capitalize on these attributes in both
colleges/universities and industry partners as we
develop resources to expand collaborations
between them.
Risk Taking:
The training mechanisms we employ will minimize
concerns about risk-taking in partnerships
between colleges/industry collaborators.
Intellectual Merit: Newly formed partnerships will
advance innovative technologies as a result of
breadth and depth of expertise, sharing of
intellectual and physical resources, and rigorous
internal and external evaluation procedures.
Broader Impacts: Closing of regional
industry/university collaboration barriers, outreach
to thousands of faculty and tens of thousand of
students, multiple dissemination strategies, and
geographic and ethnic diversity.
Key Attributes of our
Innovation Ecosystem:
Training and opportunities to learn one anothers’
strengths (ex. in collaborative conferences) will
build trust and openness among potential partners.
“Best Practices in University/Industry
Economic and Societal Impact: Regional innovative partnerships lay the foundation for new jobs and
increased productivity that helps stabilize the economy, which helps secure societal freedom.
Academic: Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, Dickenson College, Elizabethtown College, Franklin
and Marshall College, Harrisburg Area Community College, Harrisburg University of Science &
Technology, Lebanon Valley College, Messiah College, Millersville University, Shippensburg University,
Penn State University (Graduated Partner).
Industrial Partner: Gannett Fleming, Inc..
Economic Development Partners: Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA, Ben
Franklin Venture Investment Forum, Capital Region Economic Development Corporation, Harrisburg
Market Keystone Innovation Zone, Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central PA, Technology Council of
Central PA, James Street Improvement District, Innovation Transfer Network.
Collaboration Across Fields:
The multi-pronged approach to developing these
partnerships is designed to enhance collaboration
across fields, both among college/university
faculty and between them and industrial partners.
Placing Partners in “New
Environments” & “Playgrounds”:
Opening doors, allowing “questioning and curiosity”,
building trust will allow greater flexibility for the
partners as they explore “new environments and
Top Contributions:
1. Link small college/universities with small corporate partners to advance commercialization
projects; overcome communications differences and other “cultural chasms” between these groups
2. Assemble a “research resource inventory” of items/resources that might be shared across the
college/university partners and with corporate partners.
Leading/Inspiring for Surprising
or Unexpected Results:
Negotiating partnerships where faculty may be
more used to dealing with unexpected results than
industry will be part of the challenge in this
3. Provide academic symposia on research topics of interest to faculty across the
colleges/universities and use them to acquaint potential corporate partners with faculty expertise.
Top Challenges:
1. Convincing some faculty of the value of developing corporate partnerships.
2. Establishing communication lines to and credibility with individual faculty.
3. Conflicting priorities across the participating institutions.
National Science Foundation Partnerships For Innovation
Grantee’s Meeting April 25-27, 2010
Arlington, VA