Because of their potential for offering spaces that encourage interdisciplinary and multi-actor collaboration, universities and research centres appear well-suited to the role of partnership broker. However, many of these institutions face enormous challenges in assuming this function. The experience of the Innovation and Technology for Development Centre at the Technical University of Madrid (itdUPM) suggests that the assumption of a successful partnership brokering role in a university environment rests upon the promotion of two complementary change processes: a move away from a conventional silo structure to an interdisciplinary environment, and a shift towards open and diverse ‘communities’ that can co-produce and transfer new kinds of practical knowledge. The possibility of accomplishing these is dependent upon a range of organisational and cultural factors within universities such as purpose-driven leadership from at least a few faculty members, an open-minded culture, organisational flexibility and individual cooperation skills.