Online strategy to connect businesses with quality college research

23 Jan 2009

An enterprising entrepreneur has figured out the right strategy to get businesses that want innovative and educational campuses with research skills to foster stronger links, via an online strategy.

Established by Tim Regan, a former senior manager at Lucent Technologies, CampusRock aims to give businesses genuine access to campus resources.

“Today, you have businesses with genuine resource needs and following Government investments in science and technology in Irish colleges and universities there is an emphasis on R&D,” Regan said.

He said the next logical step is to ensure there is a mechanism to allow businesses that need to research a new market, develop a new product and access talent interact with college resources, while also ensuring academics who work with SMEs and large companies get paid for their efforts.

Regan developed the CampusRock website to not only help interested businesses hook up with available resources, but ensure the journey of R&D/collaboration goes full circle.

“The whole idea is to create a global platform that allows both the business community and the third-level community to reach other and generate real, tangible results.

“We’re not just focused on getting businesses in touch with the cream of the crop in terms of PhD researchers, but also undergraduates and academics who have potential value to add to a business that wants to tap into a potential export market or create a new product stream.”

Businesses would use the site to find available resources such as researchers, pieces of applied research or just interact with people in fields that might matter to them.

Once two parties agree to work with each other, the site has a workflow feature that allows them to keep the project on track until completion.

“It’s not a social-networking site but a private exchange that allows resources to bid privately to organisations about what they can do.”

CampusRock derives revenue by billing firms once a milestone that has been agreed between the business and the campus resource has been reached. The fee usually works out at 9pc of the overall fee agreed between the college and business.

“We started the business in 2007, and the site went live during the summer and now we’ve launched into the UK market. So far, over 20 business-college projects have been initiated so far.”

In recessionary times, as Irish businesses look to expand into export markets, they need to realise there are resources on Irish and UK campuses that could help them get into new markets.

“It’s also a good way to leverage available national resources in a way that is consistent with Government policy,” Regan said.

He pointed out that colleges are hubs of innovation, but often the academic staff and researchers as well as businesses aren’t always aware the other exists or has needs.

“This is also a way for businesses to tap into tomorrow’s resources today. For the undergraduates, it means getting practical industry experience and forming concrete career contacts. For businesses, it’s an opportunity to broaden their horizons, as markets shift and change.

“Colleges are awash with valuable work like thesis’ and research that never gets to the business world unless someone publishes a book.

“If you can establish a link between the two stakeholders, you can then promote more activity and allow the person doing the research receive remuneration,” Regan said.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years