Universities too are a good source of new technologies. In order to target improved absorption of research output from academic partnerships companies such as Intel situate their laboratories adjacent to preferred university campuses selected for their expertise in key technology disciplines. Each laboratory is staffed by Intel scientists and managed by a full-time by university professor responsible for building collaborative research relationships and facilitating technology transfer from the campus to Intel. Chemical companies such as Eastman and DuPont have employed similar approaches.
In the past large corporations have spent an impressive amount of money on University research but it had previously been dispersed across hundreds of small, often unrelated grants. Such a diffusion of funds by large companies made it difficult to monitor the projects and align them with its own R&D interests. Adsorption of these external projects was further complicated by the slow pace of the academic work and disputes over intellectual property rights. Thus many such university research relationships required high coordination costs and yielded limited benefits.
Seeking to more closely coordinate University research through more targeted relationships, companies such as Intel channel portion of its academic research spending towards the creation of dedicated research laboratories at up to eight universities. The institutions are chosen on the basis of their leadership in specific technology areas that Intel believes would generate heavy demand for processing power, and therefore future Intel products.
Each research laboratory situated adjacent to a University is staffed with several dozen Intel R&D researchers. Additionally each collaboration site requires an accomplished professor from the University to serve in a two-year, full-time position directing the lab’s research and acting as liaison between the lab and the University.
To further improve technology absorption from these collaborations, the companies create a central R&D-based group of up to several dozen program managers to facilitate technology transfer between the universities and the company. This group supplements the efforts of approximately 100 company researchers that are situated at the corporation’s university laboratories. From budget perspective Intel’s shift for example is toward targeted University research at a rate 30% higher than its traditional non-targeted research grants.