Why Is There So Little Collaboration Between Academics and Start-Ups?


The main issue is that someone always wants something for nothing.  The start-up wants to leverage Academia because it will be cheaper than paying for a big-time consultant.  The professor doesn’t have a real strong reason to help the start-up because he won’t make very much money on them (unless he believes that the company will take off), when advice is not paid for, or costs very little, there is less incentive for those plans to actually be executed, and they get no notoriety from the project when they are pitching themselves as consultants to larger businesses.

The best business models that I have seen for taking advantage of this type of arrangement are as follows:

Student-Run Consulting Organization

I participated in “Spartan Consulting”, which was a student-run MBA-level consulting agency that would routinely take on small clients or start-ups.  The advantages for the start-up is that they got dirt-cheap consulting fees.  The advantages for the students is that they got consulting experience, good resume stories, and a little bar money.  Everybody wins.

Class Projects

I have participated in a few of these as a student and a few of them in the corporate world.  Basically, a company with a problem/issue/scenario finds a professor who’s entire class cirriculum revolves around 1 or 2 major consulting projects.  The class breaks into teams, the company gives the class access to whatever they agree upon, and they go to work on a 6-12 week project where they get several pitches at the end from the various groups.  Again, everybody wins.

Case Competitions

These are relatively quick and fruitful ventures where you would sponsor a case competition at a college (or MBA program), devise a case for a specific situation, get many teams to compete, and then give the students anywhere from 24 hours to 2 weeks to compete and come up with their best business analysis solutions.  This is an especially valuable tool for a business who is looking for multiple business frameworks to be developed, a new venture to be analyzed, or who wants new product ideas.

Sorry, that was a little off-topic, but these three ideas are valuable ways that Academia and Start-ups can use each other in win-win scenarios.  Good luck out there!

Todd Hagopian

Please follow this conversation on quora.com:  http://www.quora.com/Why-is-there-so-little-collaboration-between-academics-and-startups/answer/Todd-Hagopian

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About Todd Hagopian (@ToddHagopian)

Todd Hagopian received his BA from Eastern Michigan University with a major in Political Science. After graduation, he worked as a Financial Advisor and a Bank Manager before returning to school. He attended Michigan State University, where he completed an MBA with a double-major in Finance and Marketing. Todd is now a Senior Product Development Manager for a Fortune 500 company. He frequently writes about business issues, social media strategy, and political issues that he finds important. Enjoy the blog!

Posted on September 23, 2011, in Business Strategy and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I have been looking at your website anytime I get a opportunity…and I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy it! Thanks for your contributions to this area!

    • Hey Alesha,

      Thank you so much for your comment, I really enjoy writing for the blog. Let me know if there is any content you are looking for specifically and I am happy to add some new content to suit your needs. Feel free to subscribe to the blog and I look forward from hearing from you in the future. Thanks so much!

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