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Vinit Parida, professor of entrepreneurship and innovation and scientific leader of NorrlandsNavet View original picture , opens in new tab/window

NorrlandsNavet is starting to take shape

Published: 16 October 2020

In May 2020 Luleå University of Technology received funding from The Kamprad Family Foundation for Entrepreneurship Research and Charity of 100MSEK. The funding has been used to set up “NorrlandsNavet” – a center operating for eight years targeting on driving growth of small and medium-sized enterprises in Norrland. In August 15 the center was formally started, and its activities are taking form.

NorrlandsNavet focuses on four different tracks. 1) Research in collaboration with small and medium-sized enterprises 2) Education as part of lifelong learning, 3) Active students cooperation with small and medium-sized enterprises 4.Dissemination of new knowledge.

Recruitment of ten PhD students

In the research track, the center will recruit ten PhD students to work on research projects collaborating with the small and medium-sized enterprises in Norrland. The aim of these projects will be to act as change agents by trying to understand the challenges that the industry is facing. They should also aim at implementing research oriented new methods to enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of small and middle-sized enterprises in a new business environment. 

The research work aims to drive growth of small and medium-sized enterprises by addressing the problem from different levels. On the most basic level, it is about identifying research issues within firm level. For example, how can practical needs within industry, like scaling up business, go international or promoting leadership, be turned into a research issue answering questions on a general level not only applicable on an individual enterprise? The next level focuses on industry or ecosystem level challenges, where the focus lies on understanding how cooperation between multiple actors (such as small and large) drive innovation and growth. The final level focused on region level issues, such as access to right talent, technological infrastructure and living lab. Finally, the projects investigate how the region can work as an engine for growth; how can Norrland be made more attractive for investment.

– I plan to bring together competence from different research subjects, within and outside ETS. I can see several potentially fruitful multi-disciplinary collaborations, for example cooperation between Economics, Information systems, Swedish and education and Entrepreneurship and innovation, says Vinit Parida, professor of entrepreneurship and innovation and scientific leader of the center.

Professional education programmes

In the second track NorrlandsNavet develops professional education programes for small and middle-sized enterprises, both on-line courses and physical meetings. Currently a number of courses are being developed, namely Business models innovation and leadership, Cultural heritage and history branding and finally Project management and Service quality.

Further information will be given at an open online event on 16 December where LTU Professional Education will inform about NorrlandsNavet and the massive, open, online courses (MOOCs) that are being developed at Luleå University of Technology.

In the third track students will be given the opportunity to do their thesis work and other minor works in collaboration with industry. The details of this track are currently being developed. 

– This should hopefully be mutually awarding. Whereas small and middle-sized companies get help with solving various problems, students establish contacts with their future employers.

A node for knowledge dissemination

The fourth track is about establishing NorrlandsNavet as an important node for spreading knowledge about business development and innovation for small and middle-sized enterprises in Norrland. An online event took place October 14th on Digital transformation in small and middle sized enterprises presented by Anna Ståhlbröst Professor of Information systems.  

There are already plans for a series of web seminars on selected issues that are important for small and medium-sized enterprises growth and innovation.

Johanna Carlsson at the Innovation Office and Project Manager for NorrlandsNavet has already experienced an interest from the industry.

–  We have had several requests for cooperation with NorrlandsNavet from a number of enterprises who have contacted us directly.  We have also approached various enterprise promotion organisations who are interested to cooperate with NorrlandsNavet by organising joint events and other initiatives that could be useful for business, and by mediating the needs of the enterprises.