University-Industry Relationship Models: Washington State University

The lines between groups on campus that interface with industry at universities are beginning to blur. Functional areas like technology transfer, corporate relations, foundation relations, and economic development are being called on by industry to become more coordinated and transparent. Washington State University is a great example of an institution that has taken this to heart, and is responding with a campus-wide collaboration of its industry-interfacing units.

Anson Fatland, AVP for Economic Development and External Affairs at Washington State University, echoes their commitment ,“Industry engagement is constantly changing. Corporations are looking for ways to maintain a competitive advantage over competitors while ensuring their bottom line is managed responsibly. At Washington State University we strive to develop relations with industry that achieve success for our corporate partners as well as our institution. We have brought together Corporate Relations, Foundation Relations, our Office of Commercialization, and our Small Business Development Centers under the umbrella of the Office of Economic Development. Through this unique organizational structure, we strive to create mutually beneficial positive impact via research and development partnerships, tech transfer and start-up activities, business consulting, student development, and more. We view all of these tools as critical to executing on the mission of our economic development efforts.”

To set this plan in action, the University has focused on three dedicated thrust areas that, while customized for their culture, are relevant to most institutions regardless of location, size, or research budget:

  • Dedication to their role in the state’s economy: WSU aligns their commercial activity with the state’s strength areas and priorities. They place an emphasis on creating linkages in areas that will grow existing industries and attract other companies
  • Dedication to internal coordination and culture change: WSU spends effort in fully understanding what resources that they have available for industry via their faculty, staff, and students. This process ensures communication between all areas of the University, and establishes a centralized knowledge bank of resources for all companies that approach the University for help
  • Dedication to outreach and relationship-building: WSU emphasizes collaboration between their Office of Commercialization, Corporate and Foundation Relations, Small Business Development Centers and Economic Development, which results in a powerful, point of interaction for industry, where the relationship can be efficiently managed and streamlined

Through this dedicated effort and a comprehensive approach to industrial engagement, Washington State University is quickly becoming an attractive landing spot for companies of all sizes.


Join us on July 31st: If you want to learn specifics about the Washington State University program, please join us for the discussion via the University-Industry Model Review III web-workshop: please learn more here and join us for the event.

Showcase your U-I program: If you program would like to be added to these spotlights and showcased in future articles or if you are a institution or stakeholder interested in these approaches, please make yourself known here

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