Towards Effective Community-University-Industry Collaboration Models
NSF Visioning Workshop at Boston University
July 27‐28, 2017
Overview and Objectives
This is the first of two workshops that will bring together stakeholders engaged in Smart & Connected Community (S&CC) projects for the purpose of examining successful partnership models, identifying metrics that partners agree are indicative of success, identifying potential or perceived impediments to broader success, and distilling generalizable lessons/patterns that may be applicable in other settings.
In this first (planning) workshop, the main goal is to identify practices and perceived hurdles, and distill a set of questions that can be posed to a broader set of partners and projects in the second workshop, illuminating the challenges faced by cities in advancing research projects to reach and impact communities. Particular emphasis will be given to sustainable ways in which university‐based research can be translated into city pilot projects and deployments in potential partnership with industry.
Note: The second workshop will be held in the Washington DC area, and is tentatively scheduled for mid-late November, 2017.
Towards the above goals, the following is an overview of the various sessions planned for the workshop. Details about these sessions are provided below.
|Thursday July 27, 2017: Day 1 – Retrospective|
|8:30 – 9:00||Check-In and Breakfast|
|9:00 – 9:30||Opening Remarks, Self Introductions, and Overview of Objectives and Plans|
|9:30 – 10:30||Project Perspective: Introspective/Discussion of Partnership Experiences|
|10:30 – 11:00||Coffee/Email Break|
|11:00 – 12:30||Partner Perspective: Introspective/Discussion of Partnership Experiences|
|12:30 – 14:00||Working Lunch: Identify case studies (moon shots and low-hanging fruits)|
|14:00 – 15:00||Hack The Process: Map case studies to reference collaboration model|
|15:00 – 15:30||Coffee/Email Break|
|15:30 – 16:30||Hack The Process: Identify stakeholders, resources, needs, and wants|
|16:30 – 17:00||Report Out and discussion of key takeaways|
|18:00 – 19:30||Dinner|
|Friday July 28, 2017: Day 2 – Synthesis|
|8:30 – 9:00||Check-In and Breakfast|
|9:00 – 10:00||Synthesize key insights from introspective and case studies from Day #1|
|10:00 – 10:30||Prioritize processes and needs|
|10:30 – 11:00||Coffee/Email Break|
|11:00 – 12:00||Discussion and planning of next steps for survey and workshop #2|
|12:00 – 12:15||Closing Remarks|
The two morning sessions are meant to identify best practices that support effective S&CC partnerships as well as hurdles that stifle such partnerships. This will be based on observations and experiences from two perspectives: The project perspective (research‐ focused/academically‐driven) as well as the stakeholder perspective (deployment‐ focused/needs‐and‐wants‐driven).
Having established a retrospective understanding of what worked in previous collaborations, the afternoon session would shift towards applying these initial insights to a hypothetical case study or scenario in order to further test their applicability to defining future models of collaboration and needed investments and/or resources or programs. This mapping will be with respect to the components and interfaces of the collaboration reference model illustrated in the diagram below.
Reference Collaboration Model for Smart & Connected Community Projects
A short summary of the objectives and activities for each of the key sessions listed in the workshop agenda is provided below (click on the “+” button to expand).
Project Perspective: Introspective/Discussion
The session will provide an opportunity for various project groups to do a rapid‐paced introspective review of their experience working on a joint project together. This will allow participants to provide a context, including the nature of the projects and the experience of the technical leads with their respective community and community engagements. The focus of the session is not on the technical details or specific outcomes, but rather on sharing the “big picture” of an admittedly small sample of integrative projects that exemplify academic-city partnerships.
Partner Perspective: Introspective/Discussion
This session will provide an opportunity for partners of academic researchers (primarily from cities, towns, and municipalities and from industry) to share their perspective based on their experiences with various collaborations and also in light of the presentations in the previous session of best practices and challenges identified by project leads.
Working Lunch: Identify moon-shot and low-hanging fruit case studies
Over lunch, participants will have an opportunity to pitch “moon-shot” as well as “low-hanging fruit” projects that the group will consider for adoption as targets for the later “Hack the Process” session. The objective is to identify two such projects (at both ends of the scale) that the group can use as case studies, illustrating future collaboration scenarios that require or could benefit from engagements from academic researchers with support from industry and or foundations. The goal is to converge on a “Problem Statement” for each project.
Hack The Process: Mapping case studies to collaboration model/processes
The “Problem Statements” established during the working lunch will be used as case studies, and the teams would then work to test the applicability of the collaboration reference model (illustrated above) and associated processes for jointly tacking each one of the selected case studies/projects. Key components of the model and associated processes include: Process for defining the problem; alignment of outcomes and incentives; funding source, beneficiary, flow and timing between stakeholders; organizational governance for collaboration between stakeholders; timing and type of cooperation between the stakeholders. An illustration of the ingredients/components of collaboration models and their interfaces is provided in the Figure above.
Synthesize key insights from introspective and case studies from Day #1
During this session, the teams would focus on organizing the output of their discussions into a collaboration model framework/template to be provided by the organizers of the workshop, which would “bucket” thoughts into core components of a collaboration model.
Prioritize processes and needs
The group of participants would then engage in an exercise to prioritize and rank the importance of the insights and associated “needs‐and‐wants” for each core component of the collaboration model.
Discussion and planning of next steps for survey and Workshop #2
We intend to use the small group of participants in the first workshop as a “program committee” that will help evolve our thinking about the scope and activities for the second workshop. As such this last session of the workshop will be dedicated to a discussion of next steps. This will also be a good opportunity to assess the need (and scale) of the interim survey we are proposing to conduct.
The workshop is meant as a dialogue and a candid exchange of ideas to compare notes and experiences. As such it will not feature any prepared talks or presentations. Rather, the meeting will consider a set of questions (exemplified below) that will help with this exchange of ideas and perspectives.
Questions meant to promote discussion and exchange of ideas and perspectives
- Are there basic research problems in smart-city applications/services that local governments would be ready to deploy to make a difference in quality of life?
- If most city/community projects are not seen as tackling fundamental basic research problems, how might universities engage in effective partnerships? What would be the incentives to faculty? Graduate students?
- Could city/community projects provide opportunities for experiential learning to students? Are cities/towns/municipalities equipped to supervise/manage programs such as internships? Could such engagements provide opportunities for K-12 STEM education? Might this be an incentive for cities to engage? What resources might facilitate this?
- What role do students and internships have in building sustainable partnerships and in training individuals who can understand and relate to the needs of it the city, while executing fundamental research?
- How do we move research from laboratories to pilots that benefit the community (however that is defined)? How do we evaluate/assess the interaction between research and community leads?
- What are best practices for ensuring that relationships and partnerships are institutional and thus immune from churn in people (change of mayor, movement of researchers)?
- What incentives or operational structures would allow personnel in local governments to engage meaningfully in university-based research projects? What incentives may be attractive at different levels of employment? What career advancement mechanisms could be offered?
- Given that local governments, municipalities, and cities are not technology shops, how could software and data artifacts outcomes from academic research be sustained?
- What are best practices for local governments, municipalities, and cities to manage competition between multiple universities that seek them for collaboration?
- Given how pressed town, city, municipality, and state governments are for resources and qualified people, are partnerships with academic institutions perceived as a liability and/or an unfunded mandate that must be justified to taxpayers? How might we mitigate that risk?
- What would be meaningful ways to effectively express/relay the commitment of local governments to the success and sustainability of research proposals/projects? How does a city reflect its commitment and how does that get reflected back into the proposal, to NSF and reviewers?
- What role could non-profits and foundations play to effectively complement funding for basic research by government agencies?
- Independent of the source of funding, is it better to fund a few very large/long-term partnerships or is it better to fund a lot of small projects? Could these alternatives be reconciled or joined in a meaningful way?
Confirmed attendees of the workshop, representing various stakeholders in existing Community-University-Industry collaborations are listed below.
- Insiyah Bergeron, Innovation District manager, City of Holyoke, MA
- Azer Bestavros, Founding Director, Hariri Institute for Computing, Boston University
- Ruthbea Clarke, Research Director, Smart Cities, IDC
- Justin Cook, Advisor, Observatory for Public Sector Innovation, OECD
- David Corman, Program Director, NSF
- Ziba Cranmer, Director, BU Spark!, Boston University
- Santiago Garces, Chief Innovation Officer, City of South Bend, IN
- Brian Goodman, Associate Director, Corporate Relations, Boston University
- Garry Hobbs, CEO, BWI Development and Management
- Meghan Houghton, Staff Associate, NSF
- Nigel Jacob, Co-Founder of New Urban Mechanics, City of Boston, MA
- Branko Kerkez, Assistant Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan
- Andrei Lapets, Director, BU SAIL, Boston University
- Ben Levine, Executive Director, MetroLab network
- Ryan Locicero, American Association for the Advancement of Science Technology & Policy Fellow, NSF
- Katharine Lusk, Executive Director, Initiative on Cities, Boston University
- Vani Mandava, Director, Data Science Outreach, Microsoft
- Dan O’Brien, Co-Director, Boston Area Research Initiative
- Leigh Raymond, Director, Purdue Center for the Environment, Purdue University
- Harry Sheehan, Deputy Water Resources Commissioner, Washtenaw County, MI
- Jonathan Sprinkle, Program Director, NSF
- Elizabeth Sullivan, Executive Director, Brighton Main Streets, City of Boston, MA
- Evimaria Terzi, Associate Professor, Computer Science, Boston University
- Piret Tonurist, Innovation Specialist & Policy Analyst, OECD
This workshop is organized and hosted by the Hariri Institute for Computing, in collaboration with the Initiative on Cities, Office of Corporate Relations, and Center for Information & Systems Engineering at Boston University.
Workshop organization and program:
Warren Distinguished Professor of Computer Science
Founding Director, Hariri Institute for Computing
Phone: (617) 353-9726 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Administrative and logistical support:
Katherine T. Gerrety
Events & Program Manager, Hariri Institute for Computing
Phone: (617) 358-6692 / Email: email@example.com