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Game-Theory Approach on a University-Industry Collaboration Model

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Mathematics Division Technical Session 1

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Paper Authors


Jing Zhang Virginia State University

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Assistant professor, Department of Mathematics and Economics, Virginia State University

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Yongjin Lu Virginia State University


Zhifu Xie Virginia State University

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Professor, Department of Mathematics and Economics Virginia State University

Ph.D in Mathematics, Brigham Young University, Aug. 2006

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Dawit Haile Virginia State University


Keith Williamson Virginia State University

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Dr. Keith M Williamson is the Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology and a Professor of both Manufacturing Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Technology. Before starting his career in academia, Williamson served as a naval architect and electronics engineer for the Department of the Navy and received the Civilian Service Medal for his efforts during the first Gulf War.

Dr. Williamson’s teaching, research, and publication interests span a range of topics including transport phenomena, metallurgy, thermomechanical stir processing, and university-K12 partnerships. He is a strong advocate for information technology literacy within public schools, He is the past Secretary and current member of the Board of Directors for the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) which is a public-private partnership between Virginia’s top research universities and advanced manufacturers including Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Siemens, and Newport News Shipbuilding. Williamson also serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Logistics Systems (CCALS) and as Founding Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Virginia State University Research Foundation.

Williamson holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Tufts University, a M.S. in mechanical engineering from Northeastern University, and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Bucknell University.

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In the fiercely competitive global marketplace, innovation alone is no longer enough. University-industry collaboration has been identified to be one of game changer to sustain the innovation ecosystem. Especially it brings a competitive, effective, and sustainable research-to-production-ready-solution in the advanced manufacturing. Many research centers have been established to provide a platform for collaborations between leading research universities and innovation industries. It may be useful to conduct a scientific study of such collaborations because of the profound impact that such centers have nowadays. In this paper, we first establish a mathematical model for the value-added to both collaborative parties in a university-industry link. Then we analyze the criteria a firm should apply to select an academic collaborator to optimize its payoff from its R&D investment. We also analyze the criteria a research team should apply to select a research project from a firm to advance its stock of knowledge.

Our analysis infers that the relevance of a research team's expertise to a firm's project is the essential factor in the formulation of the link between the two ends. Rationally, a firm shall collaborate with a university based on its relevance to the project rather than the universities' reputation/rank for the optimal return to the firm. But there is a different point of view from university. Although high relevance brings a firm large return, a university will contrarily prefer to take the project that has less relevance as long as the relevance is above certain level, which gives the university optimal return in the long run.

Zhang, J., & Lu, Y., & Xie, Z., & Haile, D., & Williamson, K. (2016, June), Game-Theory Approach on a University-Industry Collaboration Model Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26998

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