University-industry collaboration plays an important role in creating engineering programs that are attractive to students, lead to competent, employable engineers and the local impact of universities. However, academic and industrial realms can operate with different vocabularies, assumptions and routines. This can lead to mismatches in expectations as well as missed opportunities for fruitful collaboration. This paper explores the perceived value of participating as an industry-sponsor to multidisciplinary engineering design capstone courses. Four industry partners were interviewed in the beginning, middle and end of two project-based courses (and one industry partner once) to track what value they expected from the course and what value they perceived to be delivered. The thirteen in-depth interviews averaged 50 minutes, were audio-recorded and transcribed for analysis. Based on the qualitative analysis, the motivation to take part as a sponsor in these project-based courses initially centered around new innovative products. However, there was a continuum of expectations ranging from product concepts to ready-to-ship solutions, which often was only surfaced later on during the course. Furthermore, the drivers behind the expected value of these outcomes could be divided into novelty, concreteness and validation. It also became apparent that the value to the sponsoring company at large and the value to the liaison diverged at times. At the end of the project, the sponsor liaisons personally highlighted the value of the course collaboration as a way of driving change in the practices, portfolios or the industry of their organization. The different types of value identified in this paper can help to form vocabulary for joint understanding in project-based innovation courses. Being able to articulate different types of value on both the university and industry side in negotiating and running these courses can help to find better matches in collaboration. As a result, all parties are better set up for successful university-industry collaboration.