To increase the pace of innovation, science and business must interact more than ever before. In Delphi, strategic fundamental science is directed to problems and opportunities that are shared by all companies in the consortium.
In the past, both universities and industrial laboratories have invested extensively in the generation of new scientific knowledge to fulfill the business needs. Experience shows, however, that new scientific results are often presented in such a way that the path leading to practical application is very time consuming. Therefore, in the last decade the need of a more effective and faster innovation path - leading from fundamental science to profitable business - is being emphasized. Here, technology (‘know-how’) is an essential link. The emphasis of establishing science-based technology platforms is visible in all sectors of industry; this is particularly true for the capital intensive upstream energy sector. Because practical problems never behave in a disciplinary way, science-based technological research must be cross disciplinary.
Today, there is little room for fundamental scientific research inside companies. Fundamental science is outsourced to universities and national laboratories. This development emphasizes the importance of a fruitful collaboration between the academic community and the industry.
From the above it follows that industry-sponsored academic research should be guided by three principles:
1. Focus scientific programs on the emerging problems and opportunities that are shared by the entire industry;
2. Aim at cross-disciplinary research programs for new directions in enabling technology;
3. Make technology transfer an important part of the research activities, utilizing cyclic interaction.
This means that the interaction between academic researchers and industry members need be frequent and intense. In the DELPHI consortium discipline-crossing communication, based on feed-forward and feed-back (cyclic concept), has high priority. Scientists and sponsors meet at least twice a year, once in Europe and once in the USA. In between, work visits are organized. Actually, the DELPHI consortium functions as a dynamic network, supported by a protected website