A large variety of organisational forms for collaboration have emerged during the last years as a result of the many socio-economic challenges faced by the society and enabled by the new ICT developments. As a result, in both developed and developing countries, different initiatives are carried out to motivate organisations, to network in new collaborative environments for innovation. In few cases, these initiatives have been promoted by Universities where academic researchers play a very important role by diffusing these networking concepts to local SMEs and by carrying out applied projects to coach and guide firms in the formation of these new collaborative environments. The Virtuelle Fabrik and Swiss Microtech in Switzerland and the TeNeT group in India are three successful collaborative environments located in different settings where a local university has played, and still plays, a very important role for the collaborative environments' creation, continuous evolution and improvement. Therefore, the objective of this paper is twofold: (1) to describe the local university key role for developing new collaborative environments and (2) to propose a methodology to benchmark and assess the different initiatives carried out by universities to develop new successful collaborative environments, identifying critical success factors (CSFs).