Useful information for cooperation between education, research and enterprises

The worlds of education, research and enterprises/organisations represent different realities. There are differences in habits, perceptions of schedules, language, reports and many other things. Companies characteristically have a tight and precise schedule, whereas education and research follow more flexible timetables. 

Here are some tips for getting the work started and making it pleasant for everybody:

Start planning early

  • There is so much to do! It takes time to find the right people, introduce ideas, get approval for them, combine the activities of different partners, discuss agreements and all other operational points, and then something always goes wrong and many doors may be closed before getting anything started.
  • Think out all your activities in advance. Sort out the smallest details before getting into action. A small thing might actually be the issue which blocks the process.

Academic year and work pace versus business and research year:

  • Educational institutions have a limited time for courses. The learning task needs to be performed within that time frame. Curricula, courses and timetables can be prepared months in advance. In addition, holidays are long. They may vary depending on the institution and the country. All these may not match well with the schedules of the company or research organisation. Therefore, it is necessary to plan and make contacts early, and agree on the schedules in advance.
  • Company projects may come quickly. Flexibility within courses is useful.
  • When being aware of a research project, it is useful to contact the educational institutions and plan the schedules and tasks well in advance.
  • Despite the different schedules, summer schools and other similar options can be considered.

Be careful with planning and provide work plan material for everybody

  • When planning projects, think out all possible aspects and agree on them between the parties: work phases, major tasks, sub tasks, etc., roles, responsibilities (also of budgets), timing - deadlines, matching timing, budget, payments, meetings, legal issues (IPR, contacts, ethics, are students allowed to work on the case, etc.), confidentiality agreements, agreements for material before project - during project - after project, who will own and who has rights to what, what kind of rights? And do not forget the security on personal and data protection levels. Agree also on the storage of the project material during and after the project, and on who will take care of it.
  • Share the agreed documents and issues with everybody, and if updated, share the material again. Be sure everybody knows everything, or at least has the possibility. Of course, it is everybody's own responsibility to keep up the processes as well…
  • And agree on the language used, the form and nature of outcomes, and administrative issues
  • You can use, for example, online project tools and platforms to manage cooperation between organisations
  • Get ready for Plan Bs.


  • Agree on common rules and follow them. The rules may also come from outside, e.g. the financier of the research project. Financiers expect the rules to be followed, and breaking them is breaking the contract. It is the real world and real work.

Communication and language

  • Use common-ground language and terminology, no jargon; explain concepts to others - even practices. What might be normal to you, may be gibberish to someone else and vice versa. You are from different areas, fields and disciplines. Jargon can also be irritating and thus have a negative effect.And if something is not clear, use concepts, graphics, etc. even try-out.
  • Companies do not have plenty of time: be brief and clear with them. Also follow their style of reporting. Good work for a company does not necessarily mean the same thing as good work for research or a university.- Companies and researchers: be clear with the case you pass to students. They may not have the tacit knowledge or experience of your sector yet. 
  • Be aware of cultural differences in communication: how, what, when and why. 
  • Agree on the means and methods of communication, e.g. Skype, e-mail, phone, Facebook; centralised, online or e-mails, etc.
  • Agree on the central person. It helps to have one central person.
  • Make sure that everyone has each other's contact information.
  • Keep everyone informed and updated.
  • Be clear in your communications.
  • Give answers on time.
  • Do not overlook mail from the others.
  • Ask if you are unsure about something.
  • Be active. Contact people if you do not hear from them.

Legal issues - make sure of...

  • immaterial property rights: in the beginning, during and after the project
  • who owns what
  • have the rights been passed?
  • contracts (case, employment, etc.)
  • agreements on expenses
  • ethical issues
  • protection of minors, if necessary
  • confidentiality agreements
  • confidentiality issues of the material for showcasing and other purposes
  • payments to students
  • and the list goes on.

Work process issues

  • Do research on the subject beforehand
  • Have an introductory meeting with students, companies and enterprises
  • Have interim meetings and workshops to see where the work is heading
  • Presenting the works at the end of the process is very rewarding

And although you are all different and work might not feel easy at times, you learn and get new insights and ideas - you learn all the time.

EU Key Competencies for Lifelong Learning: Retrieved from; on 18.04.2011