This article is published in the October 2016 issue.

The Future of Computing Research: Industry-Academic Collaborations

The Computing Community Consortium convened a round-table of industry and academic participants in July 2015 to better understand the landscape of industry-academic interaction, and to discuss possible actions that might be taken to enhance those interactions. This discussion was preceded by a survey sent to academics and industry representatives in Spring of 2015. This survey was designed to provide some current information about the perceptions of the value of academic/industry interaction as well as trends and barriers.

The resulting report, The Future of Computing Research: Industry-Academic Collaborations, touches on topics that were discussion during the round-table as well as in the survey.

From the report:

In reflecting on the results of the survey and the roundtable discussions, below are some concrete actions that could be taken to enhance the future vitality and impact of academic-industry interactions:

1) Establish a means of measuring and benchmarking industry/academic interactions. It is hard to assess or improve something that cannot be measured. Create a repository of best- practices for industry/ university interactions.

2) Recognize that there is a need for career paths that may combine elements of a traditional academic career in a university research and education setting with career paths that involve significant time within a new or established company, and create mechanisms that support such career paths.

3) Consider ways that advanced infrastructure can be made widely available to the research community. Finding ways to make advanced computing and devices, large data sets, and unique facilities more widely available will benefit industry (it will create “power-users” for their infrastructure), academic research (avoiding wasted time and resources replicating capabilities already in existence), and education (students will learn on the latest and greatest).

4) Convene a long-term forum or body around industry academic interaction. Collaborations between academia and industry will continue to play a central role in the transfer of long-term and fundamental research into the US economy. Recognizing and supporting this transfer will provide mutual benefits to all stakeholders.

This report has lead to a CCC sponsored program on Industry-Academic Collaboration. The goal of this program is to catalyze and foster partnerships between industry and academic research by creating mechanisms for early career researchers in academia and industry representatives to interact and explore ways to work together. The CCC has implement these programs through the four National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs (BD Hubs). The Hubs are coordinated by top data scientists at Columbia University (Northeast Hub), Georgia Tech and the University of North Carolina (South Hub), the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (Midwest Hub) and the University of WashingtonUC Berkeley, and the San Diego Supercomputer CenterUC San Diego (West Hub).

See the full industry-academia report here.