There are a lot of studies describing the importance of university-industry engagement (Shane, 2004; Friedman and Silberman, 2003; Jensen et al., 2003; Link et al., 2003, D’Este and Patel, 2007), however very few describe the detailed working relationships required to satisfy both the university and the company involved. More importantly, there is limited work done showing the value of such engagement from a commercial point of view. This study provides an authoritative guide for understanding successful engagement with industry to help manufacturers diversify their output to increase profit margins and sustain production in often declining industries.
This study plays particular focus to industrial design-led innovations for manufacturers directly associated with the demise of the Australian automotive sector. Research-led practice in industrial design shows the importance of new product options for these struggling automotive supply companies and the manner in which this is done successfully is discussed with evidence from recent activities completed for prominent Australian automotive suppliers. Following this, customer engagement through sales and marketing, the value issues, the value for customers and the value for companies engaging with universities is described to provide a clear method of engagement from initial meeting through to commercially viable outcome.