The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between universities and their industry partners from a relational perspective. In an age where 3D printing, the internet, open collaboration and government expectations that universities should maximise the commercial outcome of their innovations, this research examines initiating and developing early stage relationships with organisations. This is in contrast to the numerous studies that have examined long term, highly formalised relationships between large companies and universities. Data was collected through in-depth interviews with 14 participants from university and industry backgrounds to 1) understand their experiences relating academic engagement barriers, 2) understand if relationship marketing has an impact on early stage relationship development, and 3) explore the role social media has in facilitating communication and cooperation. The initial data collected supports the use of a relational marketing approach as a theoretical lens to study the interaction of the key actors.