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What You Can Learn from Public/Private Partnerships

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The Internet was invented in a government laboratory, but it was the corporate vision that had it commercialized and institutionalized. It’s a great example of how the public and private sectors can work as partners in innovation, and advance a new era of social and technological change.

The best part: Both sides win.

These types of partnerships can fail as spectacularly as they succeed. But to make a partnership successful and work faster, smarter and better, a few things have to happen. These can also be applied outside of the public/private space.

Collaborate

Stakeholders will simplify operations if they share information. Administrative complexity and technological redundancy can be your biggest bugaboos. For example, when government and private stakeholders share information – and risk – the resulting innovation can benefit key areas that include homeland/national security, health and human services, energy, public safety and transportation.

Share Best Practices

Don’t reinvent the wheel. For public/private projects, private sector companies offer a playbook for successful innovation through lessons-learned and best practices. They can balance costs and benefits — a skill learned from the necessity of competitive markets where budgets are connected to solutions. Government agencies can tap this experience to identify products, evaluate gaps in technology or design flexible solutions that promote positive change.

Tap Into Existing R&D Resources

The sequestration and budget constraints have undermined the federal government’s research and development capabilities. Funding for R&D has shifted to rapid prototyping and procurement of “off the shelf” technologies and services. However, R&D spending in the private sector continues to move apace, because corporations must develop new technologies in order to be competitive.

Companies can help make up the government shortfalls by sharing their R&D capabilities. Combining funding and pipelines for research in the public and private sectors can also provide a sustainable, competitive bridge for the next generation of scientists and engineers who will lead and achieve.

Strengthening the public/private partnership through open collaboration, best practices, and shared research and development will help accelerate the innovation we need to meet our challenges. It’s not a nice-to-have: It’s an imperative if you want to be competitive in the U.S. and abroad.

Charles (Chuck) Brooks serves as vice president/client executive for the Department of Homeland Security at Xerox. He has an extensive experience in executive management, government relations, and R&D in the public and private sectors.

This post originally appeared in Forbes.

Image via alphaspirit/Shutterstock.com

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