Construction companies, architects and glaziers from all over the country turn to Spinab Stålpartier in the North for high-quality steel products and cutting-edge knowledge of special solutions for both interiors and exteriors. Ever since the start six years ago, the focus has been on growth and innovation. Therefore, the business development program Fast Track, which is run by Luleå University of Technology and LTU Business, felt completely right.
"We want to continue to be innovative"
Ulf Isaksson says that they have previously enlisted the help of the university for product development and with degree projects in various projects. In parallel, LTU Business has been an advisor in business development. But Fast Track took it all to a whole new level.
- Fast Track gives us an enormous amount and we wish that a similar program had existed when we started the company. It would have made it a lot easier.
- What gives effect is the exchange with other business leaders who participate in the program, the short way to researchers and students with technical excellence - combined with business development, says Rickard Bergström.
For the steel company in Öjebyn, long-term focus on quality and innovation is an obvious strategy for competing with foreign suppliers. When Conny Hökfors, business developer at LTU Business, suggested Fast Track and Ulf Isaksson had just recruited Rickard Bergström, well then the timing felt perfect.
- Of course, we want the business to grow financially, but also for Piteå and Norrbotten to have more jobs. We want to create new job opportunities that do not compete with existing companies and industries in the region, but we strive to find new niches, says Ulf.
Conny Hökfors has extensive experience of guiding companies that want to grow through collaboration. Small and medium-sized companies in Norrbotten and Västerbotten in particular are in strong focus at LTU Business.
- In our daily contact with entrepreneurs around the counties, we meet many who both want and can grow, which is extremely important for the region's competitiveness. Being able to offer this group an opportunity like Fast Track is incredibly rewarding and valuable for us, says Conny.
Fast Track is led by Anna Öhrwall Rönnbäck, professor and subject representative for product innovation at Luleå University of Technology.
- Fast Track is based on long experience of running business management training, in the form of "executive management" training aimed at owner-managed companies. It is really a two-sided benefit for small businesses and the university. When we work together with companies like Spinab, we can offer them to take part of the university's resources, while we learn a lot about their industry and operations. It provides a basis for future research together. In our educations, mainly civil engineer or economist, business leaders in small companies can participate as guest lecturers or with student projects that provide benefits for both our students and that develop the company in a way that is completely unique, says Anna Öhrwall Rönnbäck.
At the beginning of 2021, the next round of Fast Track will start. Marita Holst, project manager for the collaborative project SIRT at Luleå University of Technology, is pleased with the positive response that previous participants give the business development program.
- It is fantastic fun that Fast Track is such a success already in our first turn, where the process and the program have partly had to be reworked in real time to digital format due to the pandemic. Fast Track is an important component in the project SIRT (collaboration structure for innovation and regional growth) where we work strategically to build and further develop structures, methods and both digital and physical platforms to initiate and implement collaboration between the university and surrounding society, concludes Marita.