21 Apr 2023

Academic and industry collaboration – a win-win

Cooperation between industry and academia – necessary to handle large challenges in society.

Many of today’s major challenges primarily involve sustainability. New technologies are likely to play an important role in tackling these challenges. WISE (Wallenberg Initiative Materials Science for Sustainability), the largest ever investment in materials science in Sweden, has recently announced several industrial doctoral and postdoctoral positions.

-Dealing with our large challenges in society require close collaboration between academia and industry, and materials research is a particularly important field going forward, says Pontus de Laval, former CTO of Saab and now a senior advisor to the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, which supports the WISE research program.

-New technologies are one of the major forces driving societal change and disrupting businesses. As a company, dealing with these sorts of challenges can be very tough. Cooperation with academia here is key to understand if these technologies will affect your business, he says.

Benefits for companies and researchers
-My experience from Saab, with a very diversified product portfolio which made it difficult to operate a relevant internal research organization, was that industrial doctoral students were an excellent and cost-effective way to interact with academia, says Pontus de Laval.

Ericsson Research has a long history of working with industrial PhD students as part of their collaboration with academia.

-It’s a great way to have brilliant researchers focus on industrial applications and research questions that are important to the future of the mobile industry. This way of working, with close collaboration between PhD students and our in-house researchers, means that we can benefit from the latest academic research, and it provides industry relevance for the university research projects, says Magnus Frodigh, Vice President & Head of Ericsson Research.

Employing industrial doctoral students or postdoctoral researchers provides two great advantages for the company: gaining access to the technology base and the competence-related value of training own staff.

– When it works well, it’s a smart career path for the researchers. However, it is important that the companies have a long-term plan for their doctoral students and postdocs, says Pontus de Laval.

Benefits for society
-Industry plays a key role to meet our major global sustainability challenges. With new technologies developed together with academia we can produce clean energy, mitigate C02 emissions and create circular material systems without depleting our natural resources, concludes Pontus de Laval.