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Researchers want to make Swedish industry world leading in digitalization

Published: 2 March 2020

Researchers from Entrepreneurship and Innovation working in the DigIn project at Luleå University of Technology are striving for increasing the rate of digitalization, sustainability and competitiveness in Swedish industry.

– We are trying to make Swedish industrial companies the world-leading players in different industries. Leading companies wants to be able to offer digital solutions based on new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. The problem is still: how do you make money from it? The answer is that it’s no longer enough to be good at implementing new technology or doing good business, you must also be able to create new relationships and collaborate with many other actors. You have to be part of a well-aligned and competent industrial ecosystem, says Vinit Parida, project leader and Chaired Professor of Entrepreneurship and innovation at Luleå University of Technology.

An industrial ecosystem can consist of customers, suppliers, service partners and digital partners working and building on each other’s competences for higher value co-creation. At the end, all players involved in the ecosystem should benefit from the business engagement.

– Those companies that can crack this formula for ecosystems orchestration will become world leaders, says Vinit Parida.

Involving companies from different industries

The new research project DigIn, has a total funding of 48 million SEK (including 18 million SEK from Vinnova) and would actively work with 38 companies from many different industries, such as mining, forestry, steel, pulp and paper, telecom and energy ecosystems. Here are names like ABB, Volvo CE, Ericsson, Epiroc, Microsoft, IBM, Scania, Telia, Boliden – to name a few.

– We work with companies from different industries to be able to help Swedish industry broadly, not just a few players. The width is unique, but also the depth. We have several leading companies that are already at the forefront so we can really focus on more critical business models commercialization issues in coming years, says David Sjödin, co-project leader and Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and innovation at Luleå University of Technology.

New method developed

The project is an extension of two previous projects with similar focus, where the researchers have interacted with over 100 different companies and developed a method to take the company from point A to point Z in the change towards being able to utilize new digital technologies, get out on the global market and start valuable collaborations with other companies. Now they will further develop the method and implement it with selected companies and their ecosystems in national and global markets.

– We see that business model innovation is at the top of the agenda for most Swedish companies as they try to profit from digital technologies. We are passionate about creating knowledge and methods, which can help drive change in the industry and contribute to better ecosystem collaboration, says David Sjödin.

Recommending policy development in the right direction

The researchers also collaborate with Ministry of Enterprise (Näringsdepartementet) to share insights from their research about the digitalization of Swedish industry. The Ministry wants suggestions on what they can do to support Swedish industry to successfully undertake digital transformation and secure sustainable competitiveness, for example through policy recommendations.

– We want to provide industry relevant knowledge to create an environment where it will be easier for other Swedish companies to work with digital technology and new business models. Setting up a 5G network in an underground mine is not an easy task as there are underdeveloped policies for it, for example. The multitude of new technologies that are emerging mean that the industry is constantly facing new challenges and opportunities, says Vinit Parida.