During my academic journey as a PhD student, I’ve come to recognise the crucial role of platforms that facilitate interaction between academia and industry. For students like me, these spaces are not just areas of collaboration—they are realms of revelation. They have been pivotal in shaping my research, thinking, and understanding of how innovation and digital transformation play out in the real world. 

Real-World Context to Theoretical Studies 

Source: own photo.

The world of academia often revolves around theories, models, and conceptual discussions. While this is essential for foundational knowledge, there’s a palpable gap when it comes to understanding how these theories apply to real-world scenarios. This is where industry-academia collaboration platforms come in. They provide PhD students like me with the real-world context, helping us align our research with genuine industrial needs and challenges. 

For instance, at the recent EINST4INE summer school at the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) I had the incredible opportunity to engage with leading professionals from various sectors. These interactions brought home the stark realities and specific challenges they face; insights that can’t be gleaned from a textbook or a lecture. 

Enabling Impactful Research 

One of the essential goals of any research, especially at the PhD level, is to have a genuine impact. The industry offers a testing ground for our theoretical frameworks and models. By understanding the problems industry actors face, we can tailor our research to propose effective solutions. 

During my interactions at the summer school, discussions on innovation ecosystems and roadmaps as technology strategy tools were incredibly enlightening. This exchange allowed me to consider the application of theoretical constructs in diverse industrial settings, pushing me to think of research areas that truly matter. 

At the recent EINST4INE summer school, I also had the opportunity to discuss some of my research findings with industry experts and gather feedback on managerial tools that translate my research into practical applications. This opportunity is invaluable for PhD students who often lack the ability to directly engage with industry leaders.  

Preparing for a Seamless Transition 

Beyond research, these collaborative spaces prepare us for the eventual transition to the industry (if we choose that path). By understanding industry dynamics first-hand, we are better positioned to add value from day one. For someone like me, keen on ensuring that my research contributes to real-world impact, these platforms have been instrumental in aligning my studies with industry requirements. 

In Conclusion 

In the evolving landscape of innovation and digital transformation, the need for collaboration between academia and industry has never been more critical. Platforms and spaces that foster such collaboration are the bridges that connect theoretical knowledge with practical applications. As a PhD student, I can attest to the immense value they bring—not just in enriching our research but in moulding us to be better contributors to the world of industry and innovation. 



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