Forming strategic partnerships, particularly university partnerships, is among the important aspects of companies’ innovation strategies that shape their innovation performance. While research has uncovered many macro-level attributes of such partnerships, the micro-level, including the human side, of these inter-organizational relationships is only partly understood. We especially lack an understanding of how individual, manager-level characteristics facilitate company collaboration with partners such as universities. Applying a micro-foundational lens and building on 10 qualitative case studies, we identify how companies’ human capital helps overcome barriers and enhance the drivers of university–industry collaboration. We propose a two-dimensional framework consisting of companies’ human capital components and their managerial roles for university partnerships—attitudinal, relational, and cognitive—to guide future research on human capital in the context of university–industry strategic partnerships. The framework will also assist managers and recruiters in better understanding the role of human capital in their collaborations with universities.