We often hear that researchers are disconnected from reality. That what we do has little practical application.
We all universally agree on the benefits of industry-research collaboration, even more on the software field. But my feeling is that the burden of starting the “mating dance” relies on us.
I’ve approached companies countless times trying to understand what they need, to see if there was something I could help them with. I can count with my fingers the times a company has approached me out of the blue. And we can disguise as a company from time to time but it doesn’t scale.
So, dear companies, please come to talk to us. Tell us what troubles you. Where you think your process could be improved. I promise we’ll do our best to try to be useful. Most of us really enjoy working on applied research projects!
I do ask you to respect our time, though. We should not be regarded as cheap labour. We cannot give free advice (forever). We won’t adapt our open source tools to fit your needs just because you are from an important company, and this could open many future opportunities. Even if it’s true, we cannot pay researcher salaries with nice words.
We do have plenty of collaboration models, so if you’re honestly looking for help I’m sure we’ll find a partnership agreement that will work for both us. And you lose nothing if you try. Instead of complaining about how useless is academia, try to steer it to what you think we should focus on. It’s a win-win proposition!
Ready to chat with a researcher? I’m all ears!