University-Business Cooperation (UBC) is a relationship in flux, reflecting issues of transition from an industrial to a knowledge society. UBC is undergoing a transformation from a dyadic university-business relationship, aimed at solving firm problems or sourcing new products and providing an outlet for academic research, to a broader university-business-government relationship that incorporates new features, such as societal concerns for economic and social development at the national, regional and local levels, as well as greater responsiveness to firm and university needs.
Moreover, in addition to the focus on research that UBC has privileged for the past few decades, evidenced by the creation of a plethora of technology transfer and collaborative research modalities, there is also a new focus on entrepreneurial education and on the role of students in UBC. Students are involved in new ways, beyond traditional internship schemes, at times creating ventures before graduation as part of entrepreneurial training and mentoring schemes.
UBC links are no longer confined to a relatively small academic sector, leaving most of the academy untouched, but have expanded from engineering and medicine to the social sciences and the arts, while the “business” side of UBC has broadened to include cultural, not for profit and civil society organisations. Moreover, a broader strategic level has emerged, in the form of the creation of venues for discussion and development of regional innovation projects that provide a means to conceive and implement concepts that go beyond discrete sets of negotiations among the dyadic or triadic partners.
The cases treated in this report describe not only activities related to graduate and undergraduate education, research and involvement in regional development. They also highlight a shift from interactions across discrete boundaries between university and business, to transformation of boundaries themselves, with creation of hybrid entities that bring a new set of organisational dynamics.