COI management, research universities, and university-industry collaboration
Conflicts of interest frequently occur as universities develop collaboration with society, and for universities to maintain the trust of the public and protect the reputation of faculty and other staff, it is necessary to appropriately respond to those conflicts of interest, not ignore them. In particular, we can argue that this is an indispensable foundation for the University of Tsukuba to become a prestigious research university.
Faculty may feel burdensome because they are required to disclose individual interests and undergo a review by committees, but the purpose of managing conflicts of interest is to protect the reputation of faculty, and to establish an environment in which faculty and other staff can focus on their research and teaching activities without anxiety.
University-industry collaborations are an important method for universities to contribute to forging solutions to society’s problems by meeting its diverse demands.
In no way is the purpose of managing conflicts of interest to limit university-industry collaborative activities. On the contrary, fully and fairly managing conflicts of interest will protect the public trust in the University, and this will promote university-industry collaboration.
Being excessively cautious when making decisions regarding each individual case will probably eliminate problems, but it may kill the fruits of university-industry collaboration that have begun to develop. It is important, therefore, to be conscious of the fact that managing conflicts of interest plays a key role for promoting university-industry collaboration and to make every related individual decision based on that perception. We cannot encourage university-industry cooperation without managing conflicts of interest.
Thus, managing conflicts of interest is a university-wide issue, and we need to make an effort to have that management system more methodical and effective.