UCI/CSTI-UIDP WORKSHOP 9-10 JULY 2024: The Future of Challenge-Driven Partnerships

Unleashing multi-stakeholder partnerships to drive breakthrough innovations


Join influential leaders and decision-makers from around the world on 9-10 July 2024 in Cambridge, UK to help identify what needs to be done to unleash the potential of multi-stakeholder partnerships to accelerate breakthrough innovations and tackle the urgent challenges facing our world.


Around the world, governments, philanthropic funders, universities, companies and others are actively exploring ways to develop multi-stakeholder partnerships to enable them to better deliver solutions to grand-challenge innovation priorities and have measurable impact. This event will bring together a strategic set of experts and practitioners involved in developing these experiments to share their experiences, insights and lessons learned about what it takes to make them work and what more needs to be done.


Together, we are committed to identify key actions and opportunities for developing these important partnerships for the future.


Attendance is by invitation only.


Please get in touch with the IfM Events team (ifm-events@eng.cam.ac.uk) or one of the organisers if you are interested in participating in the workshop.




Background and motivation


In 2014 the University of Cambridge Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (CSTI) and the UIDP organised a high impact, solutions-focused workshop on how to build high value university-industry strategic partnerships. It brought together senior decision-makers from leading US and UK universities, multinational corporations and government funding agencies. They shared experiences, insights and lessons learned to identify effective practices and key issues moving forward. A copy of the 2014 report can be found here


Since then, much has changed. The pandemic prompted rapid collaborations between universities and their partners to address urgent challenges. Geopolitical issues are increasingly affecting partnerships and the flow of ideas and talent across borders. Now, many are asking needs to be done to build more effective challenge-driven partnerships at scale able to tackle other urgent innovation challenges.


Initiatives such as the US NSF Convergence Accelerators and challenge-focused regional innovation engines, the proliferation of Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA)-like organisations, including ARIA in the UK and most recently ARPA-H and ARPA-I in the US, Wellcome Trust’s Leap programme, and Japan’s Moonshot R&D programmes, are creating significant opportunities for universities and their partners to drive breakthrough innovation.


To seize them, universities and their partners may need to develop new partnership models and ways of working, act with a greater sense of urgency, become more impact-led, engage more actively in the translation of research into innovations, and involve societal beneficiaries more actively in the process.




The 2024 workshop


2024 Workshop

10 years on, the UIDP, CSTI and the Policy Evidence Unit for University Commercialisation and Innovation (UCI) are coming together to organize a workshop to once again assemble senior decision-makers and thought leaders from across innovation ecosystems in the US, UK and elsewhere to share experiences, insights and ideas on one of the key partnering challenges of our time, asking:


What needs to be done to enable multi-stakeholder partnerships involving universities to significantly accelerate the development of breakthrough innovations aimed at tackling urgent and complex grand challenges?


Driven by this question, the workshop will:

  • Explore trends towards grand challenge-driven innovation priorities, programmes and partnerships, and implications for universities and their partners.
  • Gather insights on the opportunities and barriers to developing effective challenge-driven partnerships from different stakeholders, including national and philanthropic funders, companies, investors and others.
  • Discuss experiments from different countries aimed at accelerating the research-to-innovation pathway to tackle urgent and complex grand challenges.
  • Learn lessons from all delegates’ experiences to capture effective practices for making these partnerships work.
  • Work together to identify what more we need to do to build effective challenge-driven partnerships moving forward (including e.g. talent, funding programmes, infrastructure, partnerships models and support, ecosystem development, incentives).
  • Reflect on how the world of strategic partnerships has changed since the 2014 workshop.

Specific topics for discussion will be shaped by insights from the partnering community gathered in advance of the workshop.




Why you should attend

  • Discover and discuss the latest trends in grand challenge innovation programmes and their impact on universities and their partners.
  • Share your insights and experiences to help shape new funding programmes, partnership strategies, and university infrastructure.
  • Connect with industry experts and peers in the innovation community for valuable networking opportunities.


Who should attend


Individuals responsible for, or have significant knowledge of, developing funding programmes, policies, approaches or support programmes for multi-stakeholder partnerships. For example:

  • Universities: Pro-Vice-Chancellors/Vice Presidents for Research & Enterprise / Innovation; Directors of Partnership / Innovation / Enterprise Offices etc.
  • Industry and other partners (e.g. national labs / public research labs, research & technology organisations, charities): Chief Research / Innovation Officers; Directors / Managers of University Relations or External R&D/innovation etc.
  • Funders (public, private or philanthropic): Senior decision-makers developing policies and funding programmes aimed at mobilising multi-stakeholder partnerships involving universities etc.




Event details



The workshop will take place at Downing College, Cambridge



Join us for a welcome drinks reception on 8th July, and a workshop dinner on 9th July.

There will be plenty of other opportunities for informal networking.


Attendance is by invitation

If you have not yet received an invitation and are interested in participating, please get in touch with the IfM events team or one of the organisers.


Fee and accommodation


** Early registration discount period extended **


Our early registration discounted fee of £350 is available until 28th March 2024. The fee from 29th March 2024 will be £500.


The fee includes the welcome drinks reception and workshop dinner, but excludes accommodation.


Accommodation is available on-site at Downing College for £121.00 per night subject to availability, and is available on a first-come, first-served basis.




International Advisory Group


The workshop is benefiting from the advice and guidance of an international group of university and industry leaders. Members of the advisory group include:


Professor Chaouki Abdallah, Executive Vice President for Research, Georgia Tech

Dr Phil Clare, Chief Executive Officer, Queen Mary Innovation

Professor Leah Cowen, Vice-President, Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives, University of Toronto

Professor Charmaine Dean, Vice President for University Research, University of Waterloo

Dr Nerissa Draeger, Director of Global University Engagements, Lam Research

Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, University of Cambridge

Nafiz Karabudak, Corporate University S&T Manager, Lockheed Martin Corporation

Professor Corinne Peek-Asa, Vice Chancellor for Research, UC San Diego

Professor Padma Raghavan, Vice Provost for Research and Innovation and Senior Advisor to the Chancellor, Vanderbilt University

Professor Mary Ryan, Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise), Imperial College London

Professor David Rosowsky, Vice President for Research, Kansas State University

Dr Malcolm Skingle, Director Academic Liaison, Research Business Performance and Externalisation Research, GSK

Patrick Stokes, Research Portfolio Lead and Executive Focal to University of Cambridge, Boeing
Paul Swift, Senior Director, Procter & Gamble Connect + Develop




Workshop sponsors







This major international workshop is being organised by the University of Cambridge Policy Evidence Unit for University Commercialisation and Innovation (UCI) and the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (CSTI), working in close partnership with the University Industry Demonstration Partnership (UIDP)

For further information please contact:

Events Team

T: +44 (0)1223 748267

E: ifm-events@eng.cam.ac.uk

Workshop organisation partners:

Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (CSTI)


Policy Evidence Unit for University Commercialisation and Innovation (UCI)


University Industry Demonstration Partnership (UIDP)



Attendance is by invitation only


If you have not yet received an invitation and are interested in participating in the workshop, please get in touch with the IfM events team or one of the organisers.



The workshop will take place at Downing College, Cambridge



2014 strategic partnerships report


2014 Strategic Partnerships Report