EU study says “Co-operation between Irish universities and business remains underdeveloped”

By Aoileann Ní Bhroin

Posted: 13 August, 2018

A European study on university-business co-operation in 33 countries for the European Commission shows that Ireland still has low levels of co-operation between universities and business. However, both academics and business indicate a strong commitment to co-operation and expect to increase their collaborative activities in the future.

Irish academics and business people who collaborate are generally satisfied with their co-operative activities. Co-operation occurs more often in education and research, in line with other European countries. Student internships in companies and joint research and development (R&D) are the most common activities. Some Irish businesses also participate in dual education programmes and few academics act as consultants for business, but there is still a large room for improvement.

More than 60% of Irish academics are not engaged in co-operation activities with businesses at all and only very rarely participate in professional mobility or share resources with business. Similarly, Irish businesses do not take part in university curriculum design and development. The participation in each other’s governance systems is low and their engagement in entrepreneurship activities for students and academics is scarce.

Insufficient work time allocated by the university for UBC activities is the main barrier for academics to collaborate, followed by other resources and funding barriers. Interestingly, academics that do cooperate perceive bureaucracy to be a more significant barrier than those academics that don’t. Primary barriers identified by the Irish business respondents relate to the well-recognised differences between businesses and universities, such as differing motivations as well as high level of bureaucracy within universities.

Irish businesses are motivated to collaborate mainly to obtain funding and additional financial resources and access new technologies and knowledge, whereas academics are driven by the potential to achieve research outcomes as well as contribute to the mission of the university. According to 404 Irish representatives from academia and business, cooperation could thrive if it is based on good personal relationships involving a shared goal, mutual commitment and trust.

Academics in Ireland undertake most of their cooperation with small and micro-sized businesses at a national or regional level and they lack cooperation with business internationally. Nonetheless, 87% of the cooperating businesses engage with international universities.


The Irish UBC national report can be accessed through the following link:

The UBC national reports are part of the ‘State of University-Business Cooperation in Europe’ ( However, the results of these national reports cannot be directly compared and ranked, since they are based on respondents’ perceptions.

For further information about the report of UBC in Ireland, please contact Nino Japarashvili

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