Many Quebec employers see little merit in working with universities

Schools fail to understand business world: Survey

Nearly one-half of Quebec companies see little or no merit in collaborating with universities, compared to one-third in the rest of Canada, according to a survey by the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal.

"The results show a goldmine of untapped potential with regards to creating R&D partnerships in Quebec," said Michel Leblanc, president and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal.

Quebec companies that collaborate with universities do so mostly by offering internships (36 per cent).

"Unlike the rest of Canada, Quebec companies still view universities primarily as talent incubators. However, companies in the rest of Canada network more often than we do with universities. Our collective challenge is therefore to transpose this mutual respect and shared commitment into concrete high value-added development projects like our Canadian counterparts appear to be doing more regularly than us," said Jean-Marc Léger, president of Léger Marketing which conducted the survey.

Many of the 402 survey respondents (52 per cent) have linked up with a university in the last three years, mainly in the form of internships, mentoring and donations to universities or their foundations and collaborative research, found A Look at Canadian University-Industry Collaborations.

A large number of the business leaders that have collaborated with universities in the past mentioned access to skills and expertise developed in universities (43 per cent) and access to highly qualified workers (42 per cent) as benefits of such an endeavour.

But universities stand to gain by doing a better job promoting their ability to contribute to business success, found the survey. More than one-quarter (28 per cent) of companies agree greater awareness of university collaboration opportunities could make a future partnership more likely or more effective, along with better alignment of university activities with business objectives (24 per cent).

One-third of the Quebec respondents claim to have encountered no particular problem or barrier during their university collaborations, versus 20 per cent of their Canadian counterparts. Overall, the most frequently encountered problems were:
•universities don’t understand the realities of the business world (29 per cent)
•administrative complexity and red tape (29 per cent)
•insufficient personnel in-house to effectively support the collaboration (25 per cent).

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