The partnership between the University of Florida (UF) and NVIDIA to create an AI university is the first of its kind in the United States, though the nation is uniquely positioned for such partnerships. Compared with many other countries, the United States has a highly developed and successful industry-university collaboration system. There are many reasons why. One factor is culture. A long tradition of pragmatism has dominated U.S. universities, leading them to view collaboration with industry as something that is useful and can advance knowledge. In addition, the U.S. system, with a diversity of kinds of universities and ownership has created a competitive environment wherein universities innovate and compete to work with industry. Finally, in many states, public colleges and universities are encouraged and supported by state and local governments in their efforts to work more closely with industry.
Drawing on interviews with key stakeholders from industry, academia, and government, this report takes the UF-NVIDIA partnership as a case study to provide an understanding of how this partnership was constructed and implemented; highlight the impact of the initial outcomes from this partnership in supporting national goals for AI research, AI education, and equitable access to AI resources; and draw five lessons for effective industry-university partnerships to foster AI. These are:
- Focus industry-university partnerships on increasing AI computing capacity at universities.
- Articulate realistic goals for partnerships based on a clear understanding of institutional capacity.
- Encourage institutional buy-in within a partnering university by spreading the benefits of the partnership across disciplines.
- Encourage government to stimulate demand for the AI research and skills that industry-university partnerships create.
- Develop an appropriate and ongoing assessment program.