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5 Overlooked University Alliances Strategies That’ll Skyrocket Your Access to Innovation and Talent

Without great university alliances, you can’t access knowledge & talent.

And without knowledge & talent…

I don’t need to finish that sentence, do I?

Many executives are already suffocating under the weight of a million tasks and missing innovations and talents sourcing capabilities, instead of strategically creating great new university alliances.

Are you trying to solve your business problem alone or with your existing university alliances?

There is hope.

Let me show you 5 university-collaboration strategies you may be overlooking that can skyrocket your access to innovation and talent.

But first, let’s explore what the “Academic Business Network” actually is before we talk about how to leverage it to your advantage.

Why invest in an Academic Business Network strategy?

I have three questions for you:

  • How much time have you spent thinking about your university alliances strategy — honestly?
  • Are your solution proposals to business challenges recognised and valued by others in your organisation?
  • Are you running out of ideas and talent for new growth drivers?

Companies are hungry for ideas and for talent, and the actual technologies and intellectual properties to commercialise those ideas. Business solution proposals from university alliances through TELANTO’s Academic Business Network costs a fraction of traditional university-business collaboration practices and deliver an infinite number of more ideas and talent touch points. 

That’s a pretty compelling value proposition to naysayers that may not see the value, right?

 And yet, only 39% of executives have a dedicated, transparent university alliances strategies in place.

Where is the disconnect? If universities provide the earliest look at where the next big idea will come from and future talent be recruited – why isn’t it a high priority in every organisation?

Simple. Executives have a series of objections when it comes to collaborating with academia.

Think about it.

Some may not find the time for an initial exploration or conversation, while others don’t know who to talk to.

Add to that the lack of trust over issues such as Intellectual Property and confidentiality.

So, how do executives choose the right strategy to align their organisation to academia when they need to constantly innovate, propose net new ideas and onboard the most talented millennials? 

First, you have to know where to look to find the best return on your time investment. Here are 5 strategies to apply to your univeristy alliance efforts to start getting results in a fraction of the normal research collaboration engagements.

1. Use real-world challenges

When you don’t know how to start and who to talk with at a university, be it by department, degree or program prepare and share a set of your real-world challenges.

We are witnessing a global trend in which universities are changing their curriculums, implementing “work integrated learning” concepts and methods that help students “learn by doing”.

When you now start to have conversations, what jumps out? You match the needs of what many faculties are looking for – real-world challenges for their capstone or experiential learning programs.

When you converse with academics now they will remember you and your company for providing much needed company challenges, no matter size, industry or geography you are from.

However, if a relevant challenge is discussed, scoped and paired with a course syllabus, you are likely to become a valuable industry partner or challenge sponsor that extends existing or starts a new university alliance.

What is possible?

Companies have a growing number of challenges and even more so unsolved ones – from all walks of life and that’s a fact! Today, we all run out of time, lack resources or skills and competencies that allow timely solutions. 

ou don’t have to reinvent the wheel to add your real-world challenges they are all around you. As a challenge coach myself I always try our customers to start with a list of high-level challenges. Very quickly, executives come up with a pretty impressive list. You can easily do that too.

Another simple way to capture real-world challenges from your company is to turn to your team and colleagues for additional input.

TELANTO’s Academic Business Cloud tool can help you build compelling challenges that will stick with your academic contacts and help you share your challenges internally.

2. Go where the audience is 

If you want to meet other soccer lovers, you go to a soccer match. If you want to meet New Yorkers, you go to New York.

It’s no different for university business collaborations.

Many executives stick only to the procedures and existing relations they are most comfortable with.

The problem is that the way academia collaborates with industry partners today is changing.

For example, just a few years ago, who would have considered TELANTO as a vehicle for challenge-based education and collaboration?

Universities like Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) are making their courses with call for challenges available online as yet another way to meet their new challenge sponsors and industry partners.

Trust me – they will thank you for it.

3. Do more than student internships

Providing just internship opportunities, while important, is not a contemporary university relationship strategy, per se.

At least not on its own.

Hear me out.

Nearly 220 million students are enrolled in academia each year – globally, but recruiters often look at student internship as the starting point of their employer branding and recruiting practices rather than a more advances point in the process.

Traditional internships are only somewhat effective and don’t create lasting employer relations on their own.

Sure, they are a piece of the puzzle, but you have to look at your overall talent acquisition goals and roll your university relationship strategy into them — not the other way around.

“Action Learning is the Future of Education & Recruiting”

Dr. Alfons Sauquet, International Dean of ESADE Business School

In other words, real-world challenges provide a great vehicle to solutions but also to employer branding and talent scouting activities for internship positions or any other employee relationship.

4. Share everything, everywhere

Companies and serious challenge sponsors can’t live by traditional and established university relations alone.

If you wait for your existing university alliances to send out collaboration opportunities for your challenges, you’ll be waiting a while.

Instead, it’s your job as a challenge sponsor to take your challenges to the universities who are capable to provide you with valuable solution proposals.

The traditionally set-up challenge only gets a small fraction of solutions. You can boost those odds simply by sharing in multiple universities.

Think about it. If you are only sharing your challenges with existing or established university alliances (or on none at all), you will miss out on the diverse audiences that compose the Academic Business Network.

5. Repurpose your best challenges

As soon as you hit “publish” on a great challenge, the real fun begins.

There are tons of different perspectives you can choose from to repurpose your challenges into a new vehicle to source new innovative solutions.

Have you ever heard of the “Challenge Derivatives?”

It means that you can derive to multiple solutions for a specific challenge and that challenge sponsors need to receive approximately seven different solution proposals from different faculties or departments before your challenge hits home.


Businesses with specific university alliance strategies source innovation and talent more often, on average, than those without them.

The key is to strategise. It can’t be hit or miss.

Unfortunately, the typical executive is so busy trying to meet daily demands as well relying to pre-configured procedures and relationships that they don’t take time to evaluate their overall strategy and align it with their specific challenges or business goals.

The good news is that when done correctly, university alliance strategies actually remove some of the comon intransparencies and silos.

You don’t need a massive budget or a team of dozens of challenge sponsors to see real results.

If your ultimate goal is getting fresh new ideas, TELANTO’s Academic Business Network is one of the best-lit pathways to get you there.

It takes planning, creativity, and some experimentation to see what works for your challenges, but innovative solutions will follow.

Which university alliance strategies have contributed the most to your daily job?

If you are interested in becoming a TELANTO challenge sponsor and/or know someone who would be Awesome: Book a call
Do you want to collaborate with universities?

Do you wish to solve your challenges with students from around the world and improve your employer branding? Release your challenges if you are looking for innovation and talent.

Do you want to collaborate with companies?

Do you want to have your students solve company challenges during your course? Free your course if you are looking for new companies and their challenges.

About the Author

Christian is the visionary and innovation leader behind TELANTO spearheading the design of TELANTO’s market leading Academic Business Cloud solutions. I founded TELANTO after identifying a growing need amongst universities to switch their conventional teaching practices towards digital action learning and allowing organisations instant access to a global talent pool of students to leverage remarkably new ways of Open Innovation, Employer Branding and Recruiting Practices.

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