The pursuit of research in any field demands profound passion, enthusiasm, curiosity, and the fortitude to embrace risks. Consequently, the research environment and the availability of resources play pivotal roles in nurturing researchers’ motivation and enhancing the quality of their outputs. Nevertheless, researchers often grapple with significant constraints in the form of research grants and employment opportunities, which can, at times, deplete their energy and adversely impact their mental well-being. This, in turn, exerts a discernible influence on the nature of the research they undertake. For instance, when standing at the crossroads of deciding whether their research leans more towards the industrial or academic spectrum, these factors and narratives become fundamental considerations.
While the distinction between the two realms remains somewhat vague, academic research is typically characterized by endeavors aimed at expanding the existing knowledge within a specific field. The outcomes of such research often delve into theoretical implications and make notable contributions to academic publications. Conversely, industrial research tends to focus on addressing the practical and commercial aspects of technologies used in various industries (Esham, 2007). Both forms of research are indispensable in advancing humanity’s collective capacity to optimize our daily routines for greater effectiveness and resource efficiency. However, the presence of economic challenges and profit-oriented settings can restrict the potential of academic research, indirectly constraining the scope of industrial research. Hence, it is imperative to bridge the divide between industrial and academic research. Decision-makers must confront this issue and gather investors and scientific agencies to foster collaboration and strike a harmonious balance between these two vital domains.
Here are some suggestions to improve the current situation for the benefit of both passionate researchers and commercial industries:
For academic institutions, fostering a better understanding of industrial needs among management can lead to more effective resource allocation, with faculty guiding the direction of research endeavors. Universities should actively encourage interdisciplinary collaborations among faculty members to ensure that research outcomes are highly applicable to the industry. The involvement of industry experts through lectures or attachment programs can help maintain the relevance of academic programs. Concurrently, industrialists should be open to engaging with academic institutions as part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives, recognizing the value in forging long-term partnerships to cultivate talent and technology for their future needs. Industries should also be willing to share their expertise to promote collaborative endeavors (Hoc & Trong, 2019).
This ecosystem should be regulated by governments through the implementation of appropriate policies and grant schemes. Tax incentives, for example, can incentivize more industrial collaboration with academic institutions. Funded research opportunities provide essential financial stability for budding scientists, and collaborative research initiatives have been shown to enhance the productivity of many small and medium-sized enterprises, thus benefiting the country’s overall (Hilkenmeier et al., 2021). Therefore, the role of governments in this regard is paramount, as every organization within a country, whether it be a commercial industry or an academic institution, contributes to the prosperity and sustainability of the nation.
Nevertheless, early-career researchers should prepare to navigate these challenges through effective networking with individuals both within and outside their field of interest. The opportunity to pursue a research-oriented career is still a privilege, knowing that some parts of the world lack equal access to quality education and modern technologies. Therefore, it is essential to stay motivated through narratives that contribute to your passion and to remain resilient in the face of obstacles. The pursuit of knowledge in any form contributes to the sustainability of human values on multiple levels.
- Esham, M. (2007, 01/01). Strategies to Develop University-Industry Linkages in Sri Lanka. Research Studies on Tertiary Education Sector Study Series, 4.
- Hilkenmeier, F., Fechtelpeter, C., & Decius, J. (2021). How to foster innovation in SMEs: Evidence of the effectiveness of a project-based technology transfer approach. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 1-29.
- Hoc, L. H., & Trong, N. D. (2019). University–industry linkages in promoting technology transfer: A study of Vietnamese technical and engineering universities. Science, Technology and Society, 24(1), 73-100.
About the Author:
Kumanan N. Govaichelvan is a PhD student at Universiti Malaya, Malaysia and a 2023 Plantae Fellow. Coming from a rice consuming country, he believes that his current research project will help enhance crop breeding process and sustain food security. He also likes discussing philosophy, Kazuo Ishiguro novels and human evolution. You can find him on X at @NGKumanan.