I still do quite a bit of work in the university sector. (I guess you get that when you come from a research background). Universities are full of amazing and very capable people with great ideas. These ideas are often well tested in the laboratory too!
The real challenge is getting them out to the ‘Real World’,. To help get ideas out along this path Universities often get in consultants. Its here that it can come a bit unstuck, as the consultant is looking to cherry pick a ready to go product and take it out to industry to get some backing. I think there are a couple of challenges with this approach. Firstly it assumes that a great idea in the lab is equivalent to a product and secondly it really limits the scope of the opportunity that exists within the capabilities in the university.
Instead its important to work together on the whole process. Rather than start with a a laboratory outcome, start with the capabilities that exist therein. And at the other end of the process rather than looking at a particular market, start at the industry level and look at their needs and pain points. Use then the Capabilities and Industry needs to drive the process of developing a product and a market opportunity together. Where they intersect is the product-market fit and it is at this spot that the real opportunity exists.
Knocking on an academics door and asking for a “value proposition” is unlikely to achieve a result, start with the relationship and the whole picture, build a great value proposition together!