Innovative future in focus at SPARK's annual conference

Digital insights, inspirational research projects and profitable innovations - these were some of the elements at SPARK's annual conference, SPARK2019.  170 participants were present to exchange experiences and take part in the next step within research.

During the second edition of SPARK's annual conference, researchers, companies and municipal and regional representatives were present. The project exhibition with current research and education projects was the start of an intensive day focusing on the future of industry.

- The annual conference gives an overall picture of SPARK and it is impressive to see the scope of all projects. I believe that this gives the companies a sense of being part of a larger context and that there is a gathering force around the development of the industry here in the region, ”said CEO Ingrid Wadskog, School of Engineering.

- Interesting discussions and inspirational lectures. It is important that representatives from industry, academia and public actors have the opportunity to meet and network, and jointly discuss how we make our region competitive. I think SPARK's annual conference has found forms for this and we have already started the planning for next years conference, ”said Executive Vice President of Jönköping University, Mats Jackson, (program manager for SPARK).

Digitalization 2.0 and SPARK award

The author and research analyst Mats Lewan gave an inspiring lecture on the second wave of digitalization. Based on the lecture, strategic initiatives were presented by researchers from the School of Engineering that are affiliated with SPARK.

The SPARK Award, a prize for researchers who have demonstrated collaborative skills, was handed out. Ehsan Ghassemali, project manager for HINT and Per Hilletofth, project manager for Reshoring was announced as winners. HINT is aimed at optimizing the product development chain for casting products, while Reshoring has developed a framework and support for decisions to companies that will move the production back home. Representatives from the companies that has participated in the research projects were there and gave their views on how important new knowledge is in  collaboration between academia and the industry. 

- It's valuable to us. I see SPARK as the best way to increase competence within the company and to get information at the right level, said Tomas Liljenfors, CEO of Bryne AB.

Digitizing project, the benefits of research in collaboration and innovation resources

We followed and got inspired by three different projects.

- Transform to AAA, a project where the purpose is to help SMEs increase their competitiveness with the help of digitizing. Three concrete examples from companies that have undergone a digital transformation were shown here.

- Thule and Jönköping University. 10 years of close collaboration led to the development and implementation of computer systems to support engineers when developing new variants of roof racks adapted to new car models in the global market.

- Innovation Runway, an external innovation resource for established companies in Jönköping County. Innovation Runway offers help in developing new innovations, services and business models. Three companies, Normans - Robowaste AB, Mullmäster AB and Q-Tech Group AB, talked about the decisive cooperation and support from Innovation Runway.

Exciting ventures within SPARK

The conference ended with information on upcoming and ongoing ventures within SPARK. For instance, a Research School (Smart Industry) in collaboration between Jönköping University and 4 higher education institutions (University of Skövde, University West, Halmstad University, and Mid Sweden University), and PREMIUM, a new education project that will promote lifelong learning. The latter is in collaboration with University of Mälardalen.

The purpose of Premium is to establish a national education program with the vision of giving people in the manufacturing industry, both regionally and nationally, a competence boost in knowledge intensive-  and innovative production development. The need for new expertise in the industry as a result of the rapid development of technology is also the basis for the new education.

- A successful day with many different perspectives that shows the importance of collaborating to strengthen the industry's competitiveness, said Ingrid Wadskog.