Corporate research organizations have the strategic need to:
- Identify and exploit new sources of innovation
- Leverage corporate research capabilities in a cost-effective manner
- Establish and expand the company’s expert network
- Recruit the best new talent for the company’s future growth and leadership
Sponsors recognize that innovative products and services, improved quality, and increased productivity are fundamental sources of corporate growth and improved financial performance. Nowadays, valuable innovation arises both within and outside a company, and research universities like MIT have become major partners in innovation with industry and government.
Cost-Effective Leveraging of Corporate Research Capabilities
By its very nature, fundamental research involves the risks of exploration and experimentation to gain novel understanding.
Often, industry’s ability to conduct important fundamental research in-house is constrained by investors’ attitudes toward risk and their focus on near-term financial rewards. Consequently, fundamental research today generally occurs within universities and national research laboratories, while corporate research organizations focus on applied research and bringing innovative products and services to market.
As a leading research university, MIT houses knowledge resources, physical assets, and an interdisciplinary culture that are designed to perform high-risk, fundamental research in established disciplines. Each industrial research sponsor pays part of the cost of research it supports, by reimbursing MIT’s direct and indirect costs to conduct the specific project. MIT funds the academic-year salary of its faculty, and half of the annual cost of graduate student tuition. Most important, the U.S. government supports about 70 percent of MIT’s total on-campus research volume, thereby providing $3 for every $1 from industry toward supporting MIT’s research and educational infrastructure. Due to this financial support structure for MIT research, a company can engage in fundamental research at MIT at a significantly lower overall cost than if the company were to build and maintain a similar infrastructure in its own laboratories.
Expansion of Expert Innovation Network
Research relationships with MIT faculty and scientists can extend a company’s expertise outside its core competencies, creating an expanded expert network.
Sponsored research projects enable talented MIT students to acquire in-depth knowledge of technology that will be of high future value to a sponsor. By sponsoring student research and cultivating relationships with MIT students, companies greatly enhance their ability to recruit valuable talent for future company growth.