There are numerous reasons why companies of all sizes should invest in research and development and why cooperation with research institutions and initiatives is particularly useful. We have summarized ten reasons.
1 Not a question but a must!
Research and development (R&D) deals with the acquisition of the latest knowledge and its initial implementation in practice and is the linchpin for innovation and change. Corona will not be the last cause of change in the economy. If we look at climate change, societal upheaval or the increasing expectations of customers, companies will increasingly be forced in the future to react quickly and transform their production, warehouse, service or business model. In order to remain or become successful in the long term, companies need to invest continuously in R&D.
- 2. small investments are already sufficient.
With R&D, it is not the amount of money invested that matters, but the targeted use of funds. The focus is on investments in future opportunities or to reduce complexity in the core business. Often, cooperations with research are target-oriented. Cooperations in the context of university theses are free of charge. Small investments in R&D can lead to high returns.
- 3. Use competencies as needed.
If you do not have competencies for certain technologies in your own company for new product developments, you can find them at existing research institutions. In other words, you access competencies on an as-needed basis instead of building them up in your own company. Scientists can provide high-quality support via their research field, based on their overview knowledge. Especially when the use of new technologies, processes or materials is planned, this expert knowledge is worth its weight in gold.
- 4. Use existing testbeds.
Testing often requires very expensive technologies, machines or testbeds. It makes no sense for companies to purchase their own. The costs would skyrocket. In this case, it is far more beneficial to award a service contract to an external research institution or to use the testbed on site in cooperation with the research institution.
- 5. Use existing Maker Spaces.
Numerous research institutions have Maker Spaces. Here, prototypes can be built together. For example, 3D printing centers coupled with Micro SD Labs, electrical and woodworking shops offer many opportunities to build functional prototypes. Initial mass production is also possible. Development costs remain low and yet functions and areas of application can be tested.
- 6. qualified junior staff and talent scouting.
Whether through a thesis, a scholarship or working as a student assistant on a project – graduates often find their first employer in the private sector through cooperation between industry and science. By working together, both sides can gain a good impression of their respective counterparts and enter into an employee/employer relationship with a clear conscience. In this way, initial competencies can also be transferred directly to one’s own company.
- 7. Benefit from objectivity and an external view.
A cooperation with a research institute offers every company an objective view from the outside on projects and ideas. An experienced and honest assessment is particularly valuable in the case of new developments, restructuring or new business models.
- 8. Use research networks.
Research is interlinked. Employees know all the relevant experts in their field of research. An intensive exchange takes place via specialist events, conferences and symposia. In this way, research partnerships can be quickly established in related fields of technology, or additional experts can be involved in the overall project as needed.
- 9. Keeping a finger on the pulse.
An initial good cooperation experience can develop into a sustainable, beneficial partnership with research institutions. If a good relationship exists, you will learn about the latest developments and trends from the research partner at an early stage. This can then give rise to new ideas for new projects and innovations.
10. profit from open innovation.
Maker Spaces, testbeds and research projects involve large as well as small and medium-sized companies from all over Germany and Europe. It is not uncommon for joint creative work and non-binding, personal exchange in co-working spaces to give rise to common approaches to innovation. Companies often face the same challenges, and it makes sense to master them together.
With all these advantages, it is clear that collaboration with research institutions should not be seen as just an option, but as a strategic element. There are numerous offers for R&D in cooperation with research institutions and new ones are added regularly.
A good and established entry format is the sponsorship of a fellowship in the Graduate School of Logistics. Within three years, doctoral theses are written based on concrete questions from the company and the interim results are continuously transferred into practice. Companies and fellows are integrated into the innovation ecosystem at the science location Dortmund and use the on-site equipment.