Places like the old Bell Labs and Genentech gRED have an environment where the scientists publish quite a lot. Suppose I wanted to build my research R&D departments to have strong academic ties. What would I need to have in place to keep in touch with academia?
People tend to do whatever gets rewarded. So if you want your department to establish strong academic ties, then find ways to formally reward that. In addition, people do stuff that they like to do when they don't have to cut through red tape. In particular, you should
- Make it easy for your researchers to attend conferences
- Establish a culture of seminars, and make it easy to bring external visitors
Start collaborative projects with members of university departments. Initially, this could begin as informal collaborations, but ideally start submitting collaborative research proposals to relevant funding bodies. For certain funding sources, having an industrial partner strengthens the collaboration. In fact, some funding sources are only available if an industrial partner is on board. The catch here is that sometimes the funding agencies require that the industrial partner commit resources, although others (such as EU FP7) will provide funding for industrial partners.
Many academics in university departments will be willing to form such a collaboration if it provides them another (potentially easier) way of getting funding. From that perspective, you have a strong position, assuming that you have the track record to convince funding agencies that giving you money is a good idea.