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DocCareers - Doctoral Candidates and Training

Since 2009, EIRMA has worked closely with the European University Association and others on the DOC-CAREERS project. This project, funded as a Special Support Action under the European Commission's 6th Framework Programme, has examined existing industry-university doctoral programs and describes both the advantages and the challenges of them, putting emphasis on the employability of students in such programmes.

DocCareers - Doctoral Candidates and Training

The report, PDF Collaborative Doctoral Education: University-Industry Partnerships for Enhancing Knowledge Exchange points out that, when at its best, a collaborative doctoral program benefits all parties: the university, the company, and student. Students gain a deeper understanding of how to turn ideas into business and how to handle legal matters such as intellectual property rights and market regulations.

As one student interviewed for the report put it, "Yes, it made me more employable in industry. Industry employers appreciate that you have gained experience in working with their particular industry and gained insights in how it functions."

The report also points out some concerns to keep in mind if you're considering a collaborative doctorate programme. These include the potential conflict between intellectual property rights issues and publishing results. As students are likely to have supervisors both from the university and the company, good communication becomes even more essential than in a conventional Ph.D. project. All parties need to be committed to the project and have similar expectations in the outcomes, otherwise students may find themselves torn between supervisors trying to mediate a solution, which will inevitably take valuable research time away from you.

Report Insight

The report finds that companies in general have high expectations of the research knowledge a doctorate holder has. However, the companies are also interested in soft skills, such as an understanding of the market, a business mindset, and good communication abilities. Small and medium-sized companies tended to have higher demands on these skills, possibly because an employee fills multiple roles in a small company while in a larger one there is more room for specialization.


Press report by ScienceBusiness
Commentary by Science Magazine

Is Responsible Partnering Consistent with Public Policy Guidelines

Responsible Partnering is very consistent with recent European and national guidelines.

IP Charter Initiative

In April 2008, the European Commission published its PDF  recommendations on the management of intellectual property in knowledge transfer activities and a Code of Practice for universities and other public research organisations. This so-called "IP Charter Initiative" is intended to enhance collaboration with industry and improve the effectiveness of knowledge exchange.

The Council of the European Union has supported this Recommendation and has recommended that Heads of State and Government endorse the following Resolution at their next summit meeting:

  • Invited Member States to actively support the Recommendation, and to promote its effective take-up by universities and other public research organisations
  • Called upon all universities and other public research organisation to pay due regard to the Code of Practice and to implement it according to their specific circumstances
  • Invited the Commission to apply the principles laid down in relevant EU policies and instruments; and
  • Invited Member States and the Commission to monitor and evaluate take up and impact, on the basis of indicators and the exchange of best practices with active involvement of stakeholders

These Recommendations are modelled on and closely related to the PDFResponsible Partnering Guidelines

The full text of the Council recommendation is available here

Responsible Partnering Initiative

Responsible Partnering is a voluntary initiative. It involves ten guidelines, explained in the PDF Handbook. You can also download the PDF slide set, explaining the background and how to get started with Responsible Partnering, and the PDF Report of the December 2007 Conference which examined progress.

The Handbook provides checklists for three levels of adoption: "Entry", "Expert" and "Strategic" explaining the procedures a university, company or public research laboratory should have in place in order to conform to the programme.

The most important point about Responsible Partnering is that it requires strategic recognition within your organisation that other players, working to different missions, share in your success. It is your responsibility to organise yourself to make this process work well.

Responsible Partnering is the result of extensive work involving EIRMA, EUA, EARTO and ProTon Europe, stimulated by the delegates at the February 2004 Special Conference in Brussels, described here.

What are the basic principles of Responsible Partnering?

Two principles underpin Responsible Partnering

Maximum Beneficial Use of Public Research

There are many reasons why public money is invested in the creation of new knowledge, including the better education of people, the desire for economic competitiveness, to address social priorities and to obtain well-informed societies. Whatever the reason, benefits appear only when knowledge is disseminated and put to productive use. The first principle recognises the need to achieve these benefits. In adhering to Responsible Partnering, the public and private partners:
- recognize the benefits of continued public investment in knowledge creation and the importance of quality;
- understand the need to achieve the maximum beneficial use of the knowledge and skills generated through public sponsorship; and
- commit to taking steps that contribute to maximising this use

This requires the adoption of policies that address:
- the role of public institutions within their communities and their relationships with the business sector;
- the need to generate knowledge and skills that will be appropriate to the needs of these stakeholders;
- the need for effective mechanisms for disseminating and transferring knowledge and skills; and
- the need to protect knowledge and skills in ways that encourage productive application.

Responsible Use of Public Research

Many types of knowledge and skills are used to produce useful products and services. In adhering to Responsible Partnering, public and private sector bodies recognise that their success depends on others’ contributions. This leads them to adopt policies that concern the Responsible Use of Public Research:
- the responsibility to be diligent in developing research results and inventions
- the need for all parties to share equitably in the rights to these results and inventions;
- the expectations of these partners when engaging in joint programmes to achieve lasting benefit;
- the need to ensure that results and inventions resulting from public investment are used in ways that also serve the general public interest;
- the need to organise collaborations in ways that foster their long-term vitality; and
- an assurance that ethical aspects of the research are taken fully into account.

2005.01.01 Responsible Partnering


Responsible Partnering is a voluntary programme, established by EIRMA and several of its European sister organisations, in order to improve the organisation, management and overall effectiveness of joint research and knowledge transfer activities involving Public Research Organisations and Companies. The principles of Responsible Partnering were developed by examining the factors that have lead to sustainable “win-win” situations.

In adhering to Responsible Partnering, PROs and Companies agree to implement the guidelines and checklists that follow from these principles and are described in this PDF Handbook. Compliance is ensured through a process of self-certification.

Currently Responsible Partnering is endorsed by EIRMA and by its sister organisations, the European University Association (EUA), the European Association of Research and Technology Organisations (EARTO) and ProTon Europe, the pan-European network of Knowledge Transfer Offices linked to Universities and Public Research Organisations. European Commissioners Potocnik and Verheugen have also supported this initiative and co-signed the introduction to the Handbook.

You can visit the public web site for Responsible Partnering here. There is also a PDF slide set, explaining how to get started with Responsible Partnering.

Why is Responsible Partnering Needed

The world in which research, development and innovation activities take place has changed fundamentally. Open Science and Open Innovation co-exist, creating new opportunities and new interdependencies. So our ways of management must evolve. Responsible Partnering is about leveraging resources and achieving the better practices that can realise these opportunities.

The Benefits

For Companies

Outsourcing now accounts for 10% or more of business sector R&D. With the R&D investment of European companies exceeding €100 billion, the payback from even small improvements in the efficiency of outsourcing is clear. Responsible Partnering offers the prospect of large improvements. More important, it also offers the prospect of greater effectiveness: the possibility to create more value from the investment.

For Universities

Knowledge transfer is increasingly seen as part of the core mission of universities. By establishing the foundations for successful research partnerships with industry and public bodies, Responsible Partnering reinforces the value of the university within society, creates new opportunities and enhances the prospect for continued top-quality research and education.

For Research and Technology Organisations

As research and technology organisations become more market-oriented, it is important that they know how to create, apply and transfer knowledge effectively. Responsible Partnering develops that capacity by creating better mutual awareness and understanding.

For Society

The economy benefits most when the fruits of research are fully exploited. Responsible Partnering creates more opportunities for this to happen. Without substantial “bottom-up” engagement of the type that Responsible Partnering promotes, it will be impossible to achieve the political objectives embodied in the Lisbon Declaration.

Basic Approach

The research, development and knowledge transfer activities of Public Research Organisations and Companies underpin the vitality of our societies. Increasingly, better integration of these activities is a necessary part of developing advanced knowledge and skills, converting these into useful products and services, and ensuring the continued availability of high quality jobs and cadres of educated, informed people. This requires more effective forms of collaboration between public and private sector organisations

Research tends to be most productive within stable frameworks that are nonetheless punctuated from time to time by new ideas and challenges. Responsible Partnering aims to establish the conditions in which trust and stability co-exist with effectiveness.

Sustainable collaborations take many forms, including

- continuing affiliations that sustain a succession of projects between companies and PROs and underpin key skills and resources.
- long-term strategic efforts, perhaps involving a dynamic group of players. The human genome project is a good example.

Responsible Partnering is mainly concerned with strategic institution-to-institution collaborations. Contract research and student training tend to be shorter-term and driven by different dynamics, but many of the principles are still relevant, especially when these form part of a wider collaboration where they are all relevant.

Examples of successful collaborations in Europe and the USA show that sustainable, "win-win" structures:

- Produce good science;
- Publish results without unreasonable delay;
- Contribute to the general education and training of new graduates; and
- Generate valuable intellectual property that supports innovation by private sector partners.

The principles and guidelines of Responsible Partnering come from analysing what makes such examples work well.

2004.10.01 Ethics of Stem Cell Research

The EuroStem project formed part of the European Union's Fifth Framework Programme on Quality of Life and Management of Living Resources. This project was concerned with the Ethics of Human Stem Cell Research and Therapy in Europe and did not itself involve primary research on persons or the tissues of persons, animals or plants. EIRMA took part as a partner research organisation and provided input from member companies.

Eurostem's main objectives, within a context of respect for fundamental human values, have been:

* To develop an ethical framework for human stem cell research, including clarifying the responsibilities of researchers, policy makers and economic actors in the field and the rights of research subjects and tissue donors, and exploring the new ethical issues raised by such research;
* To monitor the development of this research and the public response to it in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe;
* To evaluate the regulatory and legislative framework within which such research will take place in any EU nations that may permit such research during the course of the project and note lessons for other countries; and
* To identify the ethical issues and concerns raised by such research and the extent to which such issues can be, or have been resolved, and the concerns addressed, and hence to contribute to a balanced dialogue between the public, the policy makers and the actors in the field.

The results of the project include an Ethical Framework Document for Stem Cell Research. This rests on a description of the Moral Base and Imperative of such Research and suggests Principles for addressing the issues that it presents.

Ethical Framework Document (168 Kbytes)

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