Exploring innovative approaches to industry-academia collaboration

Ladan Ocora, Dominika Ohana

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Globally, social enterprises (SE) are on the rise, however due to contextual factors, there is no universally accepted definition of a social enterprise (Banerjee & Sahay, 2019). Broadly speaking, social enterprises are businesses that trade for a social purpose, aim to achieve social and/or environmental goals and generate some income from trading of which they reinvest the majority in the fulfilment of their mission. Due to a lack of funding, often SEs rely on volunteers and therefore lack subject matter expertise, face resource constrains or legacy mindsets (Bandyopadhyay & Ray, 2019). Those obstacles can hinder social enterprises’ sustainable viability and growth.
This paper draws on primary and secondary analysis of source materials and the existing literature on academic, social enterprises and wider industry collaboration. Selected examples from within Australia and globally will be presented. Companies and individuals often seek advice to improve or develop business products and often approach the university with business ideas. However, matching the needs and expectations of both University and business can be difficult (De Luca et al, 2014).
There are numerous benefits of these initiatives for social entrepreneurs and social enterprises. For example, by having access to wider industry and academic experts, SEs are able to access subject matter expertise and best industry practices. As a result, they can increase viability and future success of their businesses, explore new business ventures and opportunities. Whereas for the academia and industry partners, it is the opportunity to network, provide practice-based learning for students, increase students’ employability capabilities and work-readiness (Smith et al., 2014). It also enhances their understanding of how to apply knowledge to real-world problems that may lead to future employment (Goldberg et al. 2014) - all, while contributing to a social impact.
Furthermore, the presentation proposes a future model of collaboration between academia and industry spheres by presenting an innovative model that is aspirational in nature. The model proposes to use the case of Westpac Foundation and the work that has been done in supporting early-stage SEs. By creating a practice-based curriculum that refers to how enterprises approach funding and what are the critical factors that can make SEs investor ready, students are able to explore various avenues and enablers, to prepare SEs for a successful business journey. Students are also exposed to and can apply real practices that are critical to the success of social enterprises and other businesses.
It is proposed to seek insights from Westpac Foundation to understand their model of assessing and funding social enterprises, discerning the key factors that they focus on when they make decisions to fund start-ups. Through collaboration, the academic partners would engage with Westpac Foundation to create a practice-based curriculum that will teach and asses students the following: i) what is a feasible social enterprise business model? ii) what financial projections are necessary? iii) what starting capital is required and how will this be used? iv) what are the social outcomes and benefits that are being targeted and how will these be measured? Finally, v) what are the features that make a social enterprise investible?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcademic Symposium
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2022
EventSocial Enterprise World Forum: Spotlight on Australia - Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 27 Sept 202229 Sept 2022


ConferenceSocial Enterprise World Forum
Abbreviated titleSEWF
Internet address


  • social enterprise, social entrepreneurship, social outcomes, social impact, investor-ready


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring innovative approaches to industry-academia collaboration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this