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The Top 9 University-Industry Collaboration Platforms For 2020

When universities and industry engage in collaboration that’s supported by well-structured collaboration software and long-term monitoring, the benefits are enormous:

Students grow their knowledge and skill through the hands-on application of business challenges. 

Business executives get a fresh perspective on their challenges, creative solutions to critical issues, and the advantage of testing out the talent of potential new employees.

Universities garner a new pathway to integrating industry knowledge in curricula, and designing more realistic and engaging learning experiences for students.  

The intrinsic motivation of university students to tackle big, real-world challenges and impress potential employers with creative proposals is one of the key driving forces of collaboration platforms. The most innovative ideas come from minds that are open to exploring a wide range of ideas, especially because they have no prior affiliation to company politics. The creative landscape of higher education is vast and ripe with potential and inspiration.


Collaboration Software & The Knowledge Gap

Knowledge is both theoretical and practical, and students need access to an environment that allows them to think and do outside the box to be adequately prepared for future work. Hypothetical learning without application puts knowledge at risk of stagnation. Likewise, the best business ideas come from experience, not textbooks, but executives still need access to the current research contained within those textbooks. Without fresh knowledge from a variety of sources, practice can also stagnate.

Why Student Challenges Are Critical For Today’s Business

The knowledge gap between learning and practice is a problem for businesses who need new talent to jump in and swim right away. In today’s competitive world, there’s no time for slow introductions. Internships offer effective practice waters, but they aren’t enough to get students swimming at a level required for fast-paced enterprises. 

Students challenges, hackathons, and action learning are not just attractive extras anymore. They’re becoming more and more critical for closing the gap between higher education and the real business world. We’ve always known that by doing we learn, and we must learn in order to do. They are mutually dependent activities that require a more proactive integration of supportive techniques and technologies. 

If we’re going to teach students how to swim, we have to get them out of the woods and into the water. That doesn’t happen without intent, strategy, and an action plan. It requires a network of vested professionals, each with their own interests, to commit to organizing deliberate student challenges that benefit every stakeholder.

How do you do that? With collaboration software. Collaboration platforms support academic-industry networks for experiential learning, helping to prepare students for workforce entry and delivering creative solutions to business problems. 

But before we get ahead of ourselves, there are several considerations to make. Software as a service (SaaS) is a burgeoning industry. There are as many people creating software these days as there are bloggers, which means there is both genius and junk out there in the matrix… beware!

Collaboration software gives students a chance to get their feet wet, and businesses the noncommittal reward of solutions without using a lot of their own resources. But there are a few things you want to know before choosing a platform.


How To Select a Collaboration Software Platform?

Collaboration without strategy is ineffective and wastes time. The goal of collaboration is to foster innovation so any platform should allow you to share information with ease and efficiency. Every stakeholder must be able to extract maximum value from the process, which requires certain features to be in place:

  • Does it have an easy-to-use interface?
  • Is it built for integration?
  • Does it have functions that support seamless collaboration?
  • It is capable of storing large amounts of detailed information?
  • Does it support outcome and impact assessment?

The following platforms solve the problem of bridging the knowledge gap by linking industry execs and higher education students. As you review each successful platform ask yourself, using the key questions above, how well do they solve the knowledge gap problem? 

We’ve arranged some of the industry’s best in random order.


Agorize

With a 2012 inception originating in Paris, France, Agorize is a SaaS (software as a service) platform that specializes in organizing O2O (online to offline) open innovation challenges and hackathons. As an open innovation platform, it offers a smattering of challenges for students and start ups to collaborate on, online hackathons, and internal team challenges to boost creativity and power. They also connect students with established companies in a variety of industries to demonstrate their skills and attract the interest of employers. According to Managing Director Aurelie Wen, HR departments can use hackathons to support employer branding, showcasing themselves as tech-savvy and innovative to top tech talent. To date, Agorize has organized almost 1000 challenges with 500 million innovators. Their industry partners include Decathlon and Carrefour.


CapSource 

With their software platform, CapSource CONNECT, CapSource directly integrates emerging business challenges, providing students with unique experiential learning opportunities. Their design is a three-step process that establishes goals for collaboration, matches universities with companies based on their unique learning objectives and preferences, and designs collaborative experiences to maximize student outcomes. They link students with local companies, startups, non-profit organizations, and large corporations by aligning teaching objectives with company goals. 

Their software gathers requirements, solicits learning partners, designs experiences, prepares for launch, measures outcomes, and manages relationships. They also offer faculty training for universities to develop curriculum and improve effectiveness of open innovation learning.

Having launched in 2016, CapSource is still a relatively new platform. Nonetheless, during the 2018 IACBE Annual Conference and Assembly Meeting, they coordinated a Live Business Case Competition, which helps you to get a sense of their style.


TELANTO

We’d be pulling the wool over your eyes if we failed to mention our own! The TELANTO platform is an evidence-based solution to the knowledge gap. It arose from a lack of other comparable technologies and services available to support transformative student learning and provide businesses with innovative solutions to problems. It seeks to engage and scale university-industry collaboration. 

The founders initially developed a software suite for businesses to detect and develop talent, using both top-down and bottom-up challenges. The application of the enterprise suite in an academic context was a decision taken to reduce the school-to-work transition of highly educated graduates with difficulties to find the right job. Telanto’s cloud-based software platform forms the core of their global academic business network with an intelligent, highly accessible interface that manages university-industry collaboration. It lends well to global innovation scouting. Organizations of any scale can get quick access to intelligent solutions through student challenges that capture the best and brightest ideas. 

A unique feature of TELANTO is its post-innovation assessment support. It measures the degree of innovation and applicability within a proposal, and how well it addressed the problem. Challenge sponsors are invited to rate the employability of individual students (which currently sits at 73%).

Many large enterprises across the globe, including Allianz, Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) and Baxter, have experienced success and transformative impacts through Telanto. 

With over 650 universities in 23 different countries, TELANTO has a goal to involve 1000 universities by end 2020, and we’re on track!

If you’re interested in learning how TELANTO represents the cutting-edge of university-industry collaboration software and service, give us a shout with your questions. 


Demola

Demola is a global innovation challenge platform that engages over 750,000 millennial problem solvers in designing solutions to real future challenges. During an eight-week process, keen participants get to show off their stuff to a range of organizations using a competency-based hiring model. Companies set up their challenges and students apply. More than 1000 organizations worldwide use Demola, including notable clients such as Nokia, Intel, and Vodafone. In fact, it was the founders’ student-business relationship with Nokia that led to the organic creation of the company.


Mindsumo

If their name doesn’t spike your interest, the fact that they’ve worked with leaders like IBM and Facebook might. Mindsumo is a crowdsourcing platform for developing innovative solutions, driving brainstorming sessions, and creating opportunities for a community of problem solvers––and not just students––to optimize current business products and processes. Businesses submit their problems (which are vetted by Mindsumo) and registered users can develop and propose solutions. 

The company was launched in 2012, in a private beta with Stanford University and 14 other universities. Although the winners of its challenges receive cash payouts, companies have legal rights to intellectual property. While this is a win for businesses, it leaves students in the dust if their contributions don’t result in a hire.


MyKindaFuture

This UK-based social enterprise is probably the most student-centered platform we’ve come across. It gives students the opportunity to kickstart their career with power and presence. MyKindaFuture enables students to build a dynamic CV or resume to share with potential employers through the platform. Students can also complete various student challenges, to bolster their resumes and add an edge to their job applications to impress potential employers. In 2018, they teamed up with local UK media giants of Channel 4 to create opportunities in the media industry for promising young television producers. MyKindaFuture is active on its social media channels, with informative posts about various career opportunities currently up for grabs. 


Real Time Cases

Real life in real time is the theme here. Rather than looking into case studies which have long been resolved, Real Time Cases throws students into the deep end with real-time, video-based case studies. The accessible online platform allows business executives to invite students to collaborate with them about unresolved challenges that they’re working on that day. Students tackle actual problems of global companies as they are occurring. Knowing that their ideas and contributions will have a real impact energizes students and enhances the learning atmosphere of higher education classrooms.  

The founders of the platform disengaged the purely text-based student challenges of legacy systems, in favour of a learning platform with over 200 video-based case prompts. These case prompts can be integrated into various business curricula. The founders of Real Time Cases recently found themselves on the Forbes "30 under 30" list, which has no doubt boosted the site’s appeal.


Riipen

Riipen is a Canadian platform that hosts project-based learning opportunities for students. Through challenges known as Riipen projects, students can demonstrate their knowledge and skill for large-scale corporations and small startup companies. Employers can experience and assess student talent and make informed, competency-based hiring decisions. Projects are embedded in course curriculum and facilitated by university instructors, helping students to connect and transfer their skills to the workplace. According to the founder of Riipen, the platform is designed to reduce unemployment levels in graduates, who may experience difficulty translating their knowledge into practical competencies in real-world work environments.


X-Culture

X-Culture is a dynamic and active enterprise that allow students and professionals to take part in competitive projects happening in over 40 nations. Their platform allows businesses to find problem solvers from all over the world, simplifying global innovation scouting. They connect more than 3,000 students from 100 universities around the world, providing them with a semester-long course in which students work in teams to solve real-life business problems and come up with new and innovative solutions. They also facilitate competitions and training opportunities, and host symposiums where students can also meet their industry challenge team in person.


Where Do You Go From Here?

When it comes to choosing collaboration software, it really depends on what features you’re looking for. You know what factors to consider when selecting from the wide variety of software choices out there, but there’s much more to university-industry collaboration than just a digital platform. The people behind it, their goals, the service that accompanies and supports collaboration, their assessment measures are all important considerations that can break even the best user interface. So, go searching with a whole-package picture in mind. An ideal platform involves many countries representing a variety of industries and international universities, attracts students at all levels, and measures impacts.

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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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