Community Building in an Academic-Industry Collaboration
Community Building in an Academic-Industry Collaboration#
Building an engaged community around any collaboration can be key for long term success, sustainability and legacy. For academic-industry collaborations, a focus on community can be crucial as often the two organisations have not worked together previously. The Turing-Roche partnership hired a full time Community Manager for this purpose; helping to navigate any differences in ways of working, facilitating initial and longer term connections and creating a sense of ownership and engagement around the partnership.
Approaches to community building can vary (see Guide to Planning a Community Chapter) but initial steps that might be useful in an academic-industry collaboration are:
Initial ‘Kick Off’ Event#
An initial event allows you to share plans and aims of your collaboration, meet with colleagues at both organisations and the wider community and signal where people can start to engage and get involved.
For the Turing-Roche Partnership this awareness event was ran online.
Later, after the first research theme was selected, the partnership ran a series of workshops which allowed an initial group to coalesce on a topic and for the partnership team to seed and facilitate interactions.
Identifying ‘Quick Win’ Engagement Opportunities#
A useful activity before jumping in to create new engagement opportunities is to explore what already exists at each organisation. For example there may be a seminar series, journal club or working group at one of the organisations that colleagues from the other are welcome to join.
For the Turing-Roche Partnership, Roche colleagues were encouraged to get involved with the Turing Institute Interest Groups which are open for anyone to join and a good way to get a sense of what research is being explored at the Turing. On the Roche side, the team explored areas of the business and prepared case studies of where potential partnership research could be applied- gaining buy-in from colleagues.
Identifying Champions/Cheerleaders on Both Sides#
Whilst there will likely be a core team in a collaboration, it’s also useful to identify people outside of this team at both organisations who can champion your collaboration and help raise awareness. This may be communications and marketing teams who can help with promotion or ‘influential’ leaders in relevant departments who can advocate for people getting involved. There may also be existing networks that you can leverage.
It may also be fruitful to consider an external advisory board. You can bring on board individuals who can help advise on scientific strategy and also can connect the collaboration with colleagues and opportunities within their own networks.
Considering Community Strategy#
Developing a strategy for community building in an academic-industry collaboration, alongside or as part of a research strategy can be extremely beneficial. Things you might want to consider as part of this are:
Mapping out key stakeholders at each organisation and organisations in the broader ecosystem and how to engage/influence them. Turing-Roche Stakeholder Map example can be found here.
Considering where and how you want people to connect
Decide on how you want to monitor community engagement- it can be challenging to find metrics that capture things like organic interactions on Slack