The Partnership Between the Universities and Industry in Nigeria


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Innovation, described as the application of existing ideas or the creation of new ideas into new products and processes is seen as the main force that causes growth in the modern capitalist economy (Watkins et al, 2014). According to Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (1997), innovation occurs when knowledge and technology is exchanged among sectors. Innovation structure is composed of complex roles and interactions among several organizational participants which includes government, research institutes and universities, enterprise.

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Universities-industry collaboration is the interface between parts of the tertiary education system and industry aiming primarily to boost knowledge and technology exchange (Samuel & Omar, 2015). Over the years, the function of universities has evolved as they previously concentrate solely on the traditional method of teaching and research with little attention to addressing the social and economic environmental demands from which they operate and function (Abdrazak & Saad, 2007). Universities are more and more being regarded as potent drivers of innovation and engines of economic growth (Kyrgidou & Spyropoulou, 2013). According to Egbetokun (2015), university education is undoubtedly an essential component in the development of the human capital across the world. It is regarded as indispensable in the building of viable and robust economy. Additionally, accumulation of knowledge alongside its applications is the primary element in the growth and development of country leading to a competitive advantage in the world economy (Bogoro, 2015). According to Saad, Surja, & Razak, (2017) there has to be strong and robust linkage between Tertiary Education Institutions, Government and the Industry, the “Triple Helix”, the convergence of which is a commanding one drives the economy of countries. Universities are accountable for providing students with understanding and assistance needed for them to become fertile grounds for innovative industries, products, and services; and this has situated Universities at the nucleus of business setups in the evolving knowledge economy (Abdrazak & Saad, 2007). Karrison and Zhang (2001: 181) “made a unique observation that if universities are the foremost players in the knowledge generation process, one could infer that the knowledge region that appears in endogenous growth models is an accretion of all universities in an economy”. According to Coffield and Williamson (1997), universities have a place in our multifaceted society where innovative thoughts can be technologically advanced and prevailing wisdom can be tested.

Developing countries like Nigeria need the knowledge domiciled in Universities to be dispersed and adopted in industries, when this happens there would be new methods of doing things which will be an improvement over the previous ones and thus will lead to value creation in the economy (Muscio, & Pozzali, 2013). According to Gertner, Roberts & Charles (2011) Collaboration between universities and industries in developing economies of the world is vital and needed for skills development (education and training), the spawning, acquisition, and implementation of knowledge (innovation and technology transfer), and the elevation of entrepreneurship (start-ups and spin-offs). The paybacks of university-industry linkages in developing economies are wide-reaching: they can help synchronize research and development programs and help by-pass repetitions, kindle interest in private research and development investment (additionality effect), and take advantage of combined effect and complementarities of scientific and technological proficiencies (D’este, Guy & Iammarino, 2013). University-industry partnership, teamwork, and collaboration can likewise expand the bearing and applicability of research piloted in public establishments, nurture the commercialization of public R&D products, and upturn the agility of labor between public and private regions (Soh & Subramanian, 2014). The paybacks of the university-industry partnership are similarly manifest in unindustrialized countries. For instance, a study in Chile and Colombia demonstrates that concerted effort between industry and universities significantly improved the tendency of business establishments to launch innovative products and to patent (Marotta, Blom & Thorn 2007).

It is evident that university education is undoubtedly an essential component in the development of the human capital across the world. It is regarded as indispensable in the building of viable and robust economy. Functional education is considered to be a fundamental ingredient for the development. Additionally, accumulation of knowledge a alongside its applications is the primary element in the growth and development of country leading to a competitive advantage in the world economy. Educating citizenry of any country is of paramount importance to its social, economic, cultural and political vitality. Tertiary education gives the much required human resources for improving the economy of the nations and ensuring significant changes (Egbetokun, 2015, p. 34). The bigger the opportunity provided to the citizens for the university education, the higher the broad the horizon for economical and rapid social development, and such significant achievement can be attained through the establishment of a collaborative relationship between universities and industries.

University education is, therefore, a platform on which the future development of any country rests. Obasanjo opined that a nation could only progress based on the attainments in its education. These views are misplaced in the real literature posits that the educational system is responsible for the production of knowledge required for technological advancement and supplying skilled human resources thus enabling economic growth by working closely with other bodies, communities, and governments both nationally and internationally through creation of a productive relationship (Fontes, 2013, p.27) Through such connections, universities can commit themselves to the promotion of the community’s advancement and corporate wellbeing. This is the reason as to why Nigeria has put more emphasis on quality education, by ensuring a conducive environment for the partnership between the universities and industry.

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