The importance of collaboration in innovation processes

The relationship between research and technology centers and companies is a key factor in industrial innovation processes. It is a complex link that is not formed naturally or spontaneously. Instead, it requires effort from both parties to establish a framework of collaboration that is effective, dynamic, safe and beneficial to all.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has spent over 60 years organizing this relationship between its centers and the production sector through the Industrial Liaison Program (ILP), which fosters links with over 200 companies and institutions worldwide (including 24 in Spain). Through an annual program of activities and the action of 45 members of staff, the MIT creates a joint framework of work on the specific topics in which its members have a particular interest, in order to focus research efforts. The topics include energy, electronics, the environment, transport, and nanotechnology.

The UPC Technology Center, CIT UPC, is part of the ILP Program. This is an excellent opportunity to boost innovative offerings led by true experts; to participate in activities and initiatives at global level in collaboration with companies and organizations at the highest level; and to promote the policy of collaboration between science, knowledge, technology, and companies in our closest environment.

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These kinds of collaborations open up major opportunities for both parties. For a global giant such as MIT, they strengthen its international leadership, and give it the opportunity to participate in regional debates, to which it can add value. From our perspective, participation in a transnational project considerably boosts our researchers’ opportunities to get involved in new projects and technology challenges, wherever they arise.

In this context, for the ninth year running, we held the Global Energy Challenges Conference a week ago. The conference was jointly organized by the MIT, the Catalonia Institute for Energy Research, the b_TEC Foundation and the CIT UPC Foundation.

This event is a forum on energy, in which researchers and experts from various countries participate and have the opportunity to debate and analyze problems shared with their local counterparts and companies in the sector, at an executive event that is open to participation. The meeting was held in the auditorium of the Torre Telefónica Diagonal 00, with the participation of professionals from over 11 countries and the presentation of innovative projects on energy production, management and consumption. It was a great success.

In contrast with the traditional concept in which innovation is a process that has nothing in common with cooperation, and in which the fear of losing knowledge makes it difficult to form partnerships with other organizations in the same sector, at CIT UPC we focus our efforts on collaborating with other organizations and entities to attain further-reaching objectives, to develop innovative solutions, and to apply them to the productive sector. This is the only path to take, as the CIT UPC’s Research Centers work with over 900 companies and has undertaken projects in over 60 countries.

Innovation is only conceived in a framework of cooperation in which all of the agents involved in the process participate and add value. This is the aim of our collaboration with the MIT, and with all of those who wish to grow and become stronger through technology and its development.

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