While at the conference this week I met up with an professor and he had an interesting proposal. Essentially the idea would be they could build containers (following our OSS requirements) that we could deploy, and for some small percent of search traffic pass our top 100 results to their container for reranking. 

Certainly more details would have to be worked out, but does this seem reasonable? Overall I still think working directly with academics can be beneficial to our own work, although I'm not sure what our overhead would be.