Preparing for partnerships with research intensive multinationals


OTTN recently met up with John Weigelt, National Technology Officer at Microsoft Canada. He highlighted opportunities for academic researchers to work with Microsoft, including  short term technology licensing opportunities and longer term research partnerships. Getting the attention of such globally recognized brands requires effort though. Researchers need to differentiate themselves in order to get noticed on the global stage. OTTN has summarized a few tips for researchers based on our conversation with John and other industry representatives.

  1. Get to know the company’s products and interests intimately. Companies make products available to academia at reduced costs or for free. John indicated that uOttawa researchers should not have to pay for Microsoft tools. If you want to interest a company in your ideas, then show them the relevance to their products, and there is no better way than using their tools.
  2. Approach companies with a compelling project. Companies are more likely to work with a team that has a unique project relevant to the business. As the technology matures, it may move into the company (possibly along with students), or the university team may develop a strategic relationship for a new start-up company. OTTN’s Start-up Garage can be of further support to students in the latter situation.
  3. Include commercial websites, patents, and request for proposals in your literature searches. All researchers do literature searches as an integral part of the research process. Opportunities to enhance a research program may be found by considering what industry is doing in the area by looking at websites and patents. The website provides a wealth of information. There are conferences and calls for proposals that may be relevant, and they are also active with organisations such as IEEE.
  4. Make the connection between your work and the company painfully obvious to them. Once you see a possible fit between your work and a company, you need to communicate it effectively in their language.  Companies do not have time to wade through your papers and look for the connection, you need to show it in a concise manner using the words they use.  
  5. Find the right door into the company. Large companies have many programs for working with academia. At Microsoft there are possibilities for student placements, visiting fellowships, research collaborations, technology transfer activities, and entrepreneurship and start-up programs.  Directly contacting their researchers as you would one in academia is also an option as they have freedom to follow their interests and collaborate with academia in areas of mutual interest. Use a single entry point into the company that best matches the situation.


Academia can benefit from industry partnerships by gaining exposure to a host of ideas and programs that complement the traditional academic activities. The importance of companies such as Microsoft on research and society cannot be ignored, and these companies see benefits in working together to build a better future.


Selected Resources for multinational companies can be found at the links. Researchers can look for similar sites to many companies in a variety of sectors. These sites are not always tied to the companies main consumer site so you may have to dig a little deeper for them.


About Ottawa Technology Transfer Network
The Ottawa Technology Transfer Network (OTTN) is a collaboration among academic research institutions affiliated with the University of Ottawa and who's goal is to enhance the economic impact of research commercialization through the sharing of best practices, enhanced market knowledge, student engagement and proactive industrial interation. OTTN members include the University of Ottawa, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institutie (OHRI), the Childrens' Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and the Unviversity of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI)

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