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Collaboration strengthens research

Better collaboration, stronger prioritisation, more time and more support with application writing were highlighted when UiA’s Council for Cooperation with the World of Work provided input on what can increase national and international funding for research projects in Agder.

Collaboration in research

How to extend the scope of research and innovation collaboration was the theme when about thirty participants gathered digitally for this autumn’s Council for Cooperation with the World of Work (Råd for samarbeid med arbeidslivet - RSA). The council shall contribute to the further development of the interaction between UiA, the wider community and the world of work. The goal is to strengthen the quality and relevance of the university's study programmes, research and academic and artistic development work.

“It is important to start with real business and industry problems. It is important to get started early and if the project is good, it is likely possible to get funding”, Helene Fladmark and Stephen Sayfritz said in their introduction. They are leaders of Eyde Industrial Cluster and VP Battery Materials at the new Morrow Batteries factory, respectively.

Head of Research Eirik Abildsnes in Kristiansand municipality and CEO Geir Bergskaug followed up and talked about research collaboration with public sector partners and the benefits of the Public Management and Industrial PhD schemes, joint doctorates developed between the university and the candidates’ workplace.

“The fact that one of our employees is taking a doctorate inspires the rest of our employees and sends out a signal that we want to improve. The scheme also lets us engage in an ongoing dialogue with the university”, says Bergskaug.

Office on campus

In groups, the RSA participants were asked to identify what inhibits and promotes research and innovation collaboration.

“I get to have an office on Campus Kristiansand and am therefore in daily contact with researchers. This creates dialogue and produces joint projects we would never have accomplished otherwise”, says Arve Haug from NAV (the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration).

“Our many small and medium-sized member companies find it difficult to reach out and get in touch with UiA. We hope that more contact will make it easier”, says Morten Haakstad, general manager of Arendal Chamber of Commerce.

Start small

Bjarne Sverkeli from Forskningsmobilisering Agder asked both UiA researchers and the business community to make more use of their start-up funds for research projects. They also have eight competence brokers who will help engage academic institutions in collaboration.

“We would like to have contact with the competence brokers”, responded Jorunn Gislefoss, director of the Faculty of Engineering and Science.

“Our fifty member companies would also like to establish contact”, Helene Fladmark from Eyde Industrial Cluster replied.

Kamilla Sharma from Innoventus Sør, who has competence brokers on her staff, followed up:

“We are happy to take the baton and enter into a dialogue with you.”

Rector Sunniva Whittaker ended the council meeting by thanking the participants for their attendance, which was also the last RSA meeting for this term. The White Paper on the relevance of higher education to work, published earlier this year, suggests that RSA will change somewhat and that it will be more up to the individual institution how the council is organised and how the work is carried out. The term of the current RSA council expires in 2021.

“We have found that digital meetings work. We will start a process and discuss how we can continue to use RSA and will involve many of you in that discussion”, Whittaker concluded.