The gap between Universities and companies exists for decades and the search for a constructive dialogue between them has always been quite poor. Each of them has always defended their own interests: those of universities are based on the knowledge they teach – a knowledge that is sometimes overestimated – and those of companies are based in adapting themselves everyday in rapidly changing markets, without recompense and conscious that their activities involves a great deal of economical and social responsibility.

It is crystal clear that while Vice-Chancellors, Professors and Lecturers in Universities – valued for their titles and knowledge – represent the wisdom, the theory and the unmistakable forecasts, businesswomen and businessmen are not well regarded by society, and even by those institutions that rule Universities. Then, it is clear that these reasons and others of a more material nature, make difficult the approach of companies to universities to profit of their knowledge.

 

And what are these “more material nature” reasons I mean? Simply, that universities do not solve efficiently and on time the needs that companies have, and on the other hand companies think that universities cannot be good partners and that the cost of transfering the knowledge is too high.

Companies must be ready to face fierce and rapidly changing global markets and consequently need to move at a high cruising speed. On the contrary, universities move in a slow tempo that keeps them away from a global environment full of new technologies and knowledge that demand immediate updating in different areas.

In my opinion, although universities and companies in Spain do have lower rates of competitiveness compared with other countries, universities should think about approaching the companies with a serious and clear compromise to offer them collaboration to improve competitiveness. It is true that universities do not know well the needs of the companies – and seems to me that sometimes these universities ignore the values of these companies – but it is also true that companies do not know too the services that universities can offer them.

Needless to say that if universities would be measured by their financial profits, then they would be focused to gain competitiveness in a global market, and consequently would approach companies in a much more valuable way.

Companies will definitively profit of the knowledge within the university only when universities really listen to the needs of the companies.

As as summary, I think the problem relies in a lack of trust in the high-valued possibilities that a team work between universities and companies can have. To make it happen, companies must value the knowledge and services universities can offer them, and universities should adapt to today’s needs of companies. Both must think about it and start doing it because we do have a high social responsibility and it is, at the end of the day, for the benefit of our country.

Josep Torrents