Why and how should you partner with universities?

Heather Jennings

Gaining access to top graduates, relevant research and boosting your profile are just some of the rewards your business can reap from partnering with universities. So how can a university partnership come about?

Grants and concessions

There are a number of grants at both state and federal level available for small businesses needing financial help on collaborative projects.

The Federal Government allows small businesses to claim a research and development (R&D) tax incentive when they engage a research service provider for their company.

There could also be greater research incentives for businesses in the future, as Universities Australia is currently lobbying for the government to introduce a premium tax concession rate for businesses collaborating with universities on R&D.

Meanwhile, Queensland’s Advance Queensland Knowledge Transfers Partnership program provides as much as $50,000 for businesses to hire a graduate to work on an innovative project.

I donate my time to these programs as I believe in fostering up-and-coming talent – everyone deserves a chance.

Pro bono

Alison Balch, director of Perth-based marketing agency Halo Communications, has partnered with the University of Western Australia and Curtin University to help graduating students with future employment. 

Balch is involved with the University of Western Australia’s Career Mentor Link program, where she mentors a third-year marketing student on career direction and employment goals. At Curtin University, Balch works with the Public Relations Student Chapter to help students improve their visibility and employability post-graduation.  

“I donate my time to these programs as I believe in fostering up-and-coming talent – everyone deserves a chance, and I have found some incredible talent through being involved with the universities,” Balch says.

As well as tapping into a network of industry leaders, Balch says partnering with universities on mentoring programs has improved her own leadership and coaching skills while building up her professional profile.

One-off projects

Sharon Melamed, managing director at consultancy matching service FindaConsultant, says her business recently worked with University of Technology Sydney post-graduate marketing students who pitched a marketing makeover for the company’s website.

“The obvious benefit from FindaConsultant’s side was access to a creative and innovative talent pool with fresh ideas and knowledge of digital marketing”, Melamed says.

The project came about as UTS was seeking private sector collaboration on a post-graduate subject, while Melamed was looking for a fresh approach to marketing her B2B startup.

Through a mutual connection, Melamed met up with UTS marketing lecturer Valeria Noguti and agreed on the partnership.

“We are a digital startup and most of the students are digital natives, which made it a really good match”, Melamed says.

Heather Jennings

Heather Jennings is a Sydney-based journalist who writes about technology, finance and business for publishers including ninemsn, Yahoo7 and Thomson Reuters.

Image: Jason James, Flickr Creative Commons license