About research collaboration


There is an 'eco-system' of research that looks something like this;

Funding eco-systemWith this logic a research unit needs resources (money, staffing, lab material, access to company cases, etc.) and the outcome of using these resources are knowledge (methods, tools, products, services), then companies turn this knowledge into value again (profit, growth, competitiveness), and hence creating more resources for research again.

This knowledge can be in many forms; PhD's, research findings, educated people, products, services, tools, methods, innovations etc. All depending on the task at hand. (Still, research in our heads implies '...the search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, using a scientific method…'.

Where there is specific problem that can be solved via knowledge of the researchers this is most likely treated through contract research, or consultancy (which is an excellent way to show the skills of a research unit, by the way).

In Sweden there is the governmental funding that is coming into the system through two channels; direct faculty funds to universities to conduct education and research, and through competitive funds from agencies like VINNOVA, KK Foundation and others. Besides this funding you got the companies that directly fund research. Also private foundations exists that support funding.

Getting funding

In general the procedure is that research units apply for funds in open calls for research by the governmental research organs. This typically implies writing up a competitive research proposal (this will be scientifically evaluated by external experts in the field) and then also showing match funding from company partners (cash, or in-kind, but cash has higher value since this is possible to employ for) to an extent of, usually, 50% of the total budget. Typically these applications are in competition with plenty others giving applications chance of 5-15% of being approved.

The only way of knowing that a project will be carried out is by creating a project directly with the research unit since this is 100% guaranteed to be carried out since there is no competition.

There is no requirement on governmental co-funding for doing research!

Within applied sciences, where this research group operates, there is little basic funds available meaning that our research is very dependent on external funding. Hence we do also try to show value in our research, making it interesting to invest in.

Collaboration modes

There are no formal modes of collaboration but one can look at different 'scale-up' models (example costs are total costs and not counting existing governmental funding);

  • Student projects (using project time in courses, ususally free, but part of course so curricula puts constraints)
  • Project courses (entire student teams in projects, 0-200 kSEK in cost, but can provide complete solution delivery)
  • Contractual research (50' and up, short, detailed research or implementation project with clear goals)
  • Research projects with PhD candidate (800 kSEK/year and means a full-time PhD candidate in research, including supervision)
  • Research projects with senior researcher (1200 kSEK/year, PhD with experience in research working on research topic)
  • Research team (2000 kSEK/year and up, usually team of researchers, and team of company partners working jointly on research topics of common interest)

The research team model is the best in terms of keeping a sustainable research environment since it usually means that research partners jointly have interest in research topics that they co-fund and share results in non-competitive mode in-between. Also this creates a learning network among partners and possibility to gain understanding from other disciplines of business as well.

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