The importance of university-business cooperation (UBC) continues to grow. To date, however, our understanding of UBC in education is lacking, as is our knowledge of the motivations of academics. This research explores a comprehensive mix of motivations underlying education-driven UBC in the form of student mobility, curriculum design and delivery, and lifelong learning. Specifically, drawing on self-determination theory, motivations across five orientations are examined, namely monetary, career, research, educational and social. Based on an extensive and wide-reaching European survey, this research demonstrates the context-specific nature of academic motivations for UBC in education. Not only do the motivations differ from those commonly noted in relation to commercialisation, the set of motivations varies across different education-driven activities. This research offers important contributions to theory and practice, revealing that academics are motivated more strongly by intrinsic than extrinsic reasons, with only social and educational orientations emerging as significant motivations across all four activities.