Economic growth and university-industry collaborations could be boosted using key language in proposals, a new study reveals. 

Dr David Johnson from University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School explored the language used in 3,500 contract research proposals prepared by SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) industry partners.  

Findings showed that those proposals which included specific entrepreneurial language and cognitive orientated language determined how quickly an academic decided on whether to engage in a research project.  

The faster decisions were more likely to result in a contract research proposal being accepted. 

The study gives an enhanced understanding of the intentions, motivations, attitudes, and decision-making capabilities of academics to engage in entrepreneurial and commercialisation activities at the university and industry boundary. 

Dr David Johnson said: “Knowing more about some of the underlying motivations which influence whether academics choose to engage in contract research is important to help drive commercial activity between university and industry.  

“More often than not, proposals are written by a resource constrained SME. Knowing what language/narrative discourse industry should use to influence academic engagement in contract research projects will help SMEs gain access to valuable academic expertise.” 

The findings will help industry to better communicate with and attract academics to engage in research projects and influence policy in how universities can best support university academic engagement and wider commercial activity.