Collaboration and data as drivers of progress: A conversation with Professor Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz
Research 2030 podcast - Season 2, Episode 5
In this episode, Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, Elsevier’s Senior Vice President of Research Networks, talks collaborations.
As a former researcher, university leader, funder, and now enabler of collaborations, Carlos has a unique perspective on these partnerships. During the course of this interview, he discusses the range of partnership models available and reflects on some of their pros and cons, including:
- The important role of the “triple helix” structure
- Why international collaboration is on the rise
- How data can help universities and industry identify partners and track impact
- The dangers of misusing data
- Why long-term thinking is crucial when it comes to collaborations
We shouldn’t be mesmerized by data. Data is very helpful; however, people’s minds are more helpful than data.
Carlos Henrique de Brito CruzShow notes
What is the triple helix model of innovation?
The model describes interactions between universities, industry and the government designed to encourage economic and social development. The framework was first shared by Henry Etzkowitz and Loet Leydesdorff in the 1990s. Since then it has been widely adopted. As interactions increase within the framework, each organization adopts characteristics of the others, which leads to the emergence of hybrid institutions such as technology transfer offices and science parks. In 2009, The Triple Helix Association was launched: a not-for-profit, non-governmental association exploring how the model can foster research, innovation, economic competitiveness and growth.
Triple Helix Strategic Interactions in a Developed Country (Red Indicates Science Park). Source: Kimatu, J.N. - Kimatu, J.N. “Evolution of strategic interactions from the triple to quad helix innovation models for sustainable development in the era of globalization”. J Innov Entrep 5, 16 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13731-016-0044-x
Beyond the podcast
- University-industry collaboration: a closer look for research leaders: This webpage addresses questions ranging from how can I find a partner to how do these partnerships influence impact?
- View a short video on identifying potential industry partners with SciVal.
- The Dowling Review of Business-University Research Collaborations: a UK review of university-industry collaboration.
- Researcher Guidebook: A Guide for Successful Institutional-Industrial Collaborations published by UIDP.
- “Triple Helix and the evolution of ecosystems of innovation: the case of Silicon Valley”
- “Benefits, Motivations, and Challenges of International Collaborative Research: A Sociology of Science Case Study”
- University-government collaboration for the generation and commercialization of new knowledge for use in industry
- “An in-depth analysis of government funding and international collaboration in scientific research”
- “Understanding and Utilizing Research Metrics to Enhance Performance”. Analysis suggesting that international and industry/university collaborations result in higher field-weighted citation impact (FWCI).
UIDP is a solutions-oriented forum where academic and industry representatives find better ways to work together. Their membership, comprising top-tier innovation companies and world-class research universities, identifies issues affecting university-industry relations and seeks new approaches to partnership and collaboration. Together, they produce tools and resources to help members make a greater impact."We don’t just talk about problems. We solve them."
Learn more at uidp.org.
Featured in this episode
Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz
Senior Vice President, Research Networks at Elsevier and guest speaker
Carlos has enjoyed a highly-distinguished career in research as a scientist, university leader and research funding agency leader. As a researcher, he has degrees in both Electrical Engineering and Physics. As a university leader, he was Rector of the University of Campinas, which is consistently ranked among the top universities in Latin America. As a funder, Carlos was the Scientific Director at the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), where he worked to develop a broad network for international research collaboration with entities around the world. He also chaired the Governing Board of the Global Research Council. A member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the AAAS, Brito is also a member of several senior councils. He received the Ordre des Palmes Academiques de France, the Order of the Scientific Merit from the Federative Republic of Brazil, and the Order of the British Empire (OBE). Since joining Elsevier, Carlos has been working with leadership in research funding bodies and universities to understand their ideas and needs related to the evaluation of research and research impact.
View Carlos on LinkedIn
Giacomo Mancini, PhD
Business Development Manager at Elsevier and lead host of the Research 2030 podcast
Giacomo is a Business Development Manager at Elsevier and lead host of Elsevier’s Research 2030 podcast series. He received his PhD in Developmental and Evolutionary Biology from New York University and has a vast amount of research experience, having held positions as a Scientist and Research Associate at Johnson & Johnson and Mount Sinai Innovative Partners. While he’s passionate about analytics and bibliometrics, you may also find him reading the sports section of fivethirtyeight.com or tracking MLB player statistics on baseballreference.com. Go Mets!
Your first time listening to Research 2030? You might enjoy these archive episodes
We’ve got two great collaboration-related interviews in our archive. One features Tony Boccanfuso, President and CEO of the University Industry Demonstration Partnership (UIDP), and more recently we were lucky enough to speak with GlaxoSmithKline’s Director of Academic Liaison, Malcolm Skingle.
Question or feedback? Email us at Research2030@elsevier.com
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Collaboration and data as drivers of progress: A conversation with Professor Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz
Hello, I’m Giacomo Mancini. Welcome to Research 2030, an Elsevier podcast series in which our guest experts discuss, debate and dissect the complex topics faced by research institutions globally.
And welcome to this episode. Today we are excited to share with you a conversation recorded by our colleagues over at UIPD, an organization that focuses on strengthening university/industry partnerships. They recently interviewed our Senior Vice President of Research Networks at Elsevier, Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz.
As a former researcher, university leader, funder, and now enabler of collaborations, Carlos has a unique perspective on these partnerships. He shares his thoughts on some of the highs and lows, the role of the “triple helix” structure, and how data can not only help identify potential partners, but track collaboration impact. He also touches on the importance of investing for the long term, and muses on why the model of government/university collaboration is so often overlooked. We hope you enjoy this episode.
Sandy (UIDP) (1:08)
Welcome to UIDP conversations, where we have candid discussions about partnership and collaboration across academia, industry and government. I'm Sandy Moore? from UIDP. And today I'm joined by Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, Senior Vice President of Research Networks at Elsevier. He previously served for 15 years as the Science Director of the Sao Paulo Research Foundation in Brazil, and as former Chair of the Global Research Council governing board. Welcome de Brito Cruz.
Thank you for having me Sandy. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Sandy (UIDP) (1:43)
You have been active in fundamental and applied research around the world from bell labs in New Jersey to prestigious laboratories in Rome, Paris, and Brazil. In the 1990s, you became a public champion for significantly building up research capacity, not just for Brazil, but internationally. What's your philosophy of research collaboration. What role should government play and what should be the role of industry to collaborate with universities and research as well?
Well, that's one of the most interesting things in my mind about science, the idea of collaboration, that collaboration helps the advancement of science and helps the quality of science. And of course, governments in my view have a very important role in the sense that governments are able - or not -to create an environment where collaboration is not only possible, but it is fostered. And governments can do that through funding, through having a good environment in relation to, for example, intellectual property, and in keeping institutions that value merit and the quality of research. And, of course, universities and industry usually are the most important, uh, actors in this kind of environment. Universities have the unique role of training professionals and training the next generation of researchers. And in doing that, universities work worldwide to advance knowledge, to advance science, and to advance technology. And industry also advances technology and advances science and uses that to create, develop, and to create opportunities, to create profit, to create jobs and universities and industry collaboration is one of key aspects of driving an economy and driving an innovative economy.
Sandy (UIDP) (04:11)
So would you say then that it should be a triad, that government and universities and industries should be working together toward these ends?
Oh, of course. By all means I think that they are, they even gave a name to this triad a number of years ago, the triple helix or, or something, which is a good description of this in the sense that it's the three are intertwined and advancement depends on the three, not only two or only one, and countries that manage to create the best environment for this interaction between the three entities achieve very, very good results in terms of development, in terms of the economy and in terms of improving their societies.
Sandy (UIDP) (05:02)
Well in late 2020, your career took a new direction. When you became Senior Vice President of Research Networks for Elsevier. What is it about this new work you're doing that makes it exciting to get up every morning?
Oh, it is really exciting, Sandy. Research networks, that's my, the division I work in, which has everything to do with collaboration, right? Networks are collaborations. And my role at Elsevier is to work with research funders and research leaders to create collaborations that would allow, uh, Elsevier to improve its analytics tools like Scopus and SciVal the large, huge, I would say, databases of publications and bibliometrics, and that would also allow funders and research leaders to advance their institutions. For example, one of the biggest challenges today for research funders all over the world - I've seen that in Brazil when I was leading one of the main research funders there, and I see that everywhere - is the challenge of demonstrating to the taxpayer that funding research today will bring benefits in a number of years, or in a number of months, or in a number of decades. It could be any, any time scale, but that is a big challenge and more data can help those research leaders to improve those demonstrations and also to learn about how their organizations are working and then to improve the organization.
Sandy (UIDP) (06:54)
And coming from a background of having to leverage what funding you had available to get a lot of research done in the most important areas. Can you speak to the value of having this intelligence to be able to pinpoint where the next ideas should be going?
Yeah. This intelligence is, is really helpful because it allows organizations to learn about their capabilities, which means where they are strong and where they are not strong, because it's not only about finding your strengths, it's finding about your weaknesses and then fixing them. And it also helps organizations to find common ground, for example, between university and industry topics, in which one is strong, the other is weak and they partner together to make both advance. So, it's a, this type of, of bibliometric data can really be of help, but it can also do harm. And we see many times organizations using it in the wrong way, bibliometric data, for example, to evaluate researchers school equal, they tend to, I don't know, the research community in some organizations tend to fall in love with some very simple indicators and believe that the indicator is telling them the truth about reality when it's not. So it's very important to look at the data and to use a basket of indicators that allow one to approximate better what happens in reality.
Sandy (UIDP) (08:45)
I think that's an excellent point because people think data might have all the answers and data is touted as giving us all the answers, but it's the analysis of that data and the information that we were able to bring from it that really help us in decision-making.
Absolutely. Yeah. The information is, is what we, we look for. I, I always remember when I was a, a student, I, I used a book on numerical calculus, which had in its front space the sentence, the purpose of calculation is insight, not numbers. So, the purpose of data is insight, not a big table of numbers which are not understood. It's very, very important to understand how data can become indicators and how indicators can become insight.
Sandy (UIDP) (09:39)
Funding for research collaboration has long been a focus of your work. The recent pandemic has made it very clear that the value of funding basic research and also translational research has incredible societal benefit. How can data help us to better direct future funding priorities?
We shouldn’t think that data can substitute for researchers’ brains and ideas. Many times researchers make decisions and have their ideas not because they look at it the data a bit, but because they have a connection to the problem they are dealing with. When I was a scientist in my laboratory, it, most of the time when I decided which one of the thousands of mirrors I had on top of my table top to direct the lasers, many times it was not because of any data that I had measured. It's because of a feeling that I had that, okay, the problem is here, or the problem is there. So we, we shouldn't be mesmerized by data. Data is very helpful, very helpful. However, people's minds are more helpful than data.
Sandy (UIDP) (11:00)
From your perspective is the innovation ecosphere on the upswing? Is investment in science and technology, gaining ground?
I'm optimistic. And I, I believe that there is, uh, even though many or most countries are facing huge challenges with the pandemic, still, there is a, a situation in which the role and the relevance of science and research became much more visible for everyone everywhere. So people, newspaper, the TV, everyone they are talking about, which are the discoveries that led to an mRNA vaccines. And is this paper published, or is this a preprint? Has it been peer reviewed or not? So it's a completely different discussion about research as compared to the discussion that existed five years ago. So there is a, there are many, many possibilities, and it seems to me that there are also many possibilities and there is a growing interest and a growing acceptance of the idea of, going back to our first discussion, collaboration between universities and industries, which is a topic which has many tensions inside it, both in industry and in universities.
However, it also brings many, many benefits. And I've seen, for example, in Brazil, when I work at the São Paulo Research Foundation, how it was important to have government actions that would make long term, I mean, seven, 10 year, university industry joint research centers possible, because the government had the idea of creating certain types of legislation that would make it feasible for industry to get involved in this kind of collaboration in which the results are not going to come next week, or next month, they're going to come in the shape of new ideas that might become something in five years or six years.
Sandy (UIDP) (13:28)
So investment in the basic or fundamental research areas are what we need to build on?
Absolutely. But I would say it's not only the thing about basic and fundamental research, which are very important - throughout my life I work at with basic research - but there is also in, when you talk about university industry connections, there is this thing about the learning curve, each side, each organization. Industry needs to learn about how university researchers think and vice versa and not only general, but they need to learn about those particular researchers they are collaborating with. And this is a learning curve, which in my experience, is usually measured in six months, seven months. So if you, if you have a project which is contracted, which has a duration of two years, you are going spend about half of the time or 40% of the time learning how to interact. Now, if you have a 10 year time scale, then the overhead of effort becomes much less burdensome on the, on their results. And once after those six, seven months, they learn how to work together, it goes like nice. It flows nicely.
Sandy (UIDP) (15:01)
So philosophically, would you say that those long-term commitments are bound to be more productive, even given the number of years?
I would think that the long term commitments help in the sense that allow for a better matching of the interests and the logic of university and industry, which are different interests and different logics, right? For example, uh, in industry, the failure of a research project can be something very bad. I mean, you lose money, lost time, your competitors advance and everything. In universities, the failure of a research project still helps you to educate your students. They learn the electromagnets if the research works or if the research does not work because they use it, Maxwell's equations, they did their stuff, they tested the antenna and they learn, okay, that's not the way to build them the antenna. And that will be valuable in their education. So educating students is a powerful mitigation factor in universities against the failure of a research idea, which does not exist in the industry or exists to a much lesser extent.
Sandy (UIDP) (16:31)
What else would you like to share?
Well, I would just add that when we talk about collaboration, uh, it's very important to have inter institutional collaboration, like university industry and university government, which is also very relevant because most of the time, people tend to think that only industry needs university ideas to perform better, but the government also needs good ideas to perform better and they can find some of those ideas in universities or in research institutions. That's one, one thing. And the other thing is that international collaboration in research, I also see as very, very important. It's a, I mean, the world of science and the world of research is large and more and more, there is no country that is able to have all the capabilities they need. 30 years ago, it was possible, but I believe that the complexity of complexity of the world is making that more, more visible so that international collaboration, which could be international collaboration, for example, among universities, but it could be a university in one country industry in another country, a research institution in a third country, because communication became so, so convenient and so accessible today. So there is inter institutional collaboration and there is international collaboration in research that should be exploited to help us advance faster and better.
Sandy (UIDP) (18:27)
Thank you to Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, senior vice president for research networks at Elsevier for joining us today for UIDP Conversations. UIDP supports professionals at top tier innovation companies and world-class universities build better partnerships, learn more at UIDP.org.
Listening to Carlos, it’s clear that he feels successful collaboration is not just about industry and universities working together. He believes that governments also have an important role to play by creating an environment that supports and encourages collaboration – particularly long-term relationships.
For Carlos, government/university collaboration – a model that is seldom discussed – is also crucial – in this case for stimulating new ideas and thinking to improve the societies we live in.
In fact, Carlos believes that successful collaborations – whatever shape they take – not only drive national economies, but ensure those economies are innovative.
It was also interesting to hear his views on the value of research intelligence, in the form of data. It helps universities and industry identify their respective research strengths, weaknesses and common ground. Importantly, data offers universities a much-needed way to demonstrate their societal impact.
We want to thank Carlos, and particularly UIDP, for allowing us to share their conversation with you. If you have questions or comments about this episode, or the podcast in general, we would love to hear them! Send us an email at Research2030@elsevier.com.
Again, I'm Giacomo Mancini and thank you for listening to this episode of Research 2030. Oh, and don't forget to sign up to Research 2030 on your favorite podcast provider – that way, you'll be the first to hear about new episodes.
What is university-industry collaboration? A closer look for research leaders.
A closer look for research leaders
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