University-Industry Partnerships - Funding of the Future (and right now)

by alexisholzer19. June 2013 14:05

An ever increasingly important component of WSU’s Office of Economic Development is fostering lasting relationships with industry for research and workforce development. Working in step with industry can help build Washington’s next generation of educated workers and discover innovations to make our economy the most robust in the nation.

With regards to research funded by industry, WSU has done fairly well in awarded research dollars; in 2012, WSU received 193 awards totaling a little over $9 million. However, industry funding accounts for just under 4.1%[1] of the total research funding at WSU; we can and must do better, and it’s going to take a lot of work.

To provide some context from some of our peer institutions here are numbers from 2011[2]:


Federal Research
Expenditures ($millions)

Private Industry 

Washington State University $201 $5.2
Oregon State University $228 $5.5
Colorado State University $330 $14.8
Iowa State University $300 $20.9
Clemson University $76 $7.4
North Carolina State  $378 $40.8








WSU must do better because of this now household word: sequestration. In 2012, WSU researchers brought in 812 individual awards, totaling over $140 million from 19 federal agencies[3]. Think ahead five years and we can guarantee that these numbers will look different; government spending on university research will almost certainly shrink and become more focused. So where can universities make up the shortage in much needed research funding to continue the United States’ legacy of innovation? More and more universities are getting the memo: private industry.

In order for a university to truly be ‘economically engaged’ it must be in step with industry, understanding their needs, barriers, and vision for success; but these relationships do not happen as the result of one or two meetings. A considerable amount of trust and mutual understanding must be built up before universities and companies will share information or discuss a contract. So how do we go about building this trust?

With this in mind, we are launching a new feature of the Economic Development Blog highlighting our partnerships with private industry. We will first focus on organizations, which help foster these relationships such as the University Industry Demonstration Partnership (UIDP), Washington State’s Innovation Partnership Zones (IPZ’s), and the Network of Academic Corporate Relations Officers (NACRO). Subsequently, we look forward to reporting on progress and results of our participation with these organizations as well as industry conferences we attend and present at, and our work to help mid and small sized Washington companies develop their future workforce.

[1]Washington State University Office of Grant and Research Development (OGRD),; dollars awarded from “Business Concerns and Corporations for Profit” for state fiscal year 2012; data obtained June 17, 2013.

[2] Association of University Technology Managers database; university self-reported research expenditures for fiscal year 2011; data obtained June 18, 2013.

[3]Ibid, OGRD.

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Business Development | Funding | Innovation | Partnerships

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