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Jakob Holmgren and Tanya Alvarez.

Full speed when innovation pilots are in control

Published: 18 September 2012

During the summer, four students at Luleå University of Technology worked as innovation pilots at PIEp.
- It resulted in my most interesting summer and an upcoming degree project at the company, says Jakob Holmgren who studies the last year in Industrial and Management Engineering at LTU.

PIEp is a research and development program where five universities in Sweden works together. Peter Törlind, head of the division Innovation and Design, runs the project from LTU's side. The association wants to strengthen cooperation with the community and industry and enhance the climate for innovation. One step in this is to train students in the processes who are needed for organizations to increase their capacity for innovation. The so-called innovation pilots then go out on the companies in which they put their knowledge into practice.

– The students meet the real work life and gets to work directly with the management. It is an effective way for us to introduce the tools and methods to organizations, says Peter Törlind.

Methods for long-term thinking

Tanya Alvarez is on her last year in technical design at LTU. During the eight weeks she worked with a company in Karlstad which produces construction modules.

– It was really fun to see how they welcomed the new methods. The company has now learned to analyze problems, to find the root cause of them and not to go directly to the solution. They realized that a process which normally can take months now can be solved much faster.

– It does not matter which company it is. The methods are general and everyone needs them, says Jakob Holmgren, who worked with a company in the steel industry together with a student at  technical design.

– We started a process of change that will permeate the entire organization's innovation efforts in the future. They got to know where they are today, what they need to do and how to begin the work, continues Jakob Holmgren.

Innovation need not be complicated

Tanya Alvarez understands the importance of working with innovation in business and how important it is that everyone in the organization sees its role in the development. That everyone work together towards the same goal.

– Only then can development occur and improvement be achieved. It is something that I want to take with me to my future workplace. Many sees innovation as something enormous. But it can often be a matter of combining existing solutions in a new way, she concludes.

PIEp Innovation pilots in numbers: The project involved 21 companies, 27 students and nine coaches. During 214 weeks and 8,560 hours worked the innovation pilots with five methods. 420 interviews were done and they generated 760 responses. The students also held about 40 workshops.