Multi-million bid at MDH strengthens Swedish manufacturing industry

Feb 16, 2012 | Research/Cooperation

A new research school called Innofacture at Mälardalen University (MDH) is to cooperate with eight of the country’s biggest manufacturing companies. The aim is to give a boost to Swedish competitiveness on the global market. The entire project is unique in that it focuses on both innovation and production in order to develop production processes at the companies.

- The research school is meant to provide the manufacturing industry with advanced and improved production systems, better working methods, as well as employees with cutting-edge competence in the realm of production. That is good both for the region and our world-leading manufacturing industries, says Mats Jackson, professor of innovative production as well as project manager of Innofacture at Mälardalen University.
Eight companies, including Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE), ABB, Scania, Bombardier, Volvo Powertrain and Fuji Autotech, participate in the research school, which gathers 15 doctoral students for the six years to come. The budget of the project is 74 million kronor, of which the companies have contributed 34 million and the Knowledge Foundation 27 million. The remainder comes from MDH.

- The new research school represents a boost, not just at MDH, but also for the companies and the entire region. The MDH research environment Innovation and Product Realization has a leading position even internationally, and it is clear that the Knowledge Foundation and the companies believe in us and our research, says Karin Röding, Vice-Chancellor at MDH.

One of the projects within the research school focuses on changes within the production system at Volvo CE. It is about finding out how the company can make continuous improvements while retaining the ability to occasionally make radical changes in an efficient manner. Just as with the other companies, there is already an established link between Volvo CE and MDH in the form of previous joint projects.

- We are looking forward to continued good cooperation with MDH. We’ll benefit greatly from the new research school by strengthening our competitiveness when it comes to industrialization and the development of production systems, says Mats Deleryd, quality manager at Volvo CE and professor of process and organizational development at MDH.

A recent survey carried out by Novus, upon an initiative by MDH and the Knowledge Foundation, shows that eight of ten companies think that their cooperation with Swedish higher education institutions is crucial or quite important for their operations. Nine of ten companies in the survey would like to see more joint projects between companies and the academic world. In particular, they’d like to see spontaneous cooperation on the basis of existing personal contacts, preferably in the geographical vicinity of the company.

- The companies we’re cooperating with are in the Mälardalen region. Geographical closeness is important. We are unique as a university, in that we have a long tradition of good cooperation with leading industrial companies. It is very positive to have doctoral students who are in direct contact with the industry. It contributes to our other students and researchers being able to gain insights into, and to work with, projects that are really relevant to the industry, says Mats Jackson.