They won SPARK Award at crowded conference

SPARK conference at Jönköping University.

The research project Reacts won the SPARK Award during the SPARK conference on 20 April.

About 100 people came to the SPARK conference at Jönköping University on 20 April, which is a platform where researchers and teachers meet the business life. The research project Reacts at the School of Engineering (JTH) at JU was awarded the SPARK Award.

“It’s great to win, of course,” says Johan Karltun, project manager for Reacts.

SPARK conference.

Cajsa Lundberg, CEO of Lundbergs Pressgjuteri in Vrigstad, and Ehsan Ghassemali, Associate Professor Materials and Manufacturing - Casting at JTH, talked about how small and medium-sized companies can use the latest research.

The SPARK conference is organized by JTH and this year's theme focuses on how collaboration between academia and industry benefits societal development. Stefan Wärn, Head of Operations Live Training, Saab, was one of the four keynote speakers at the conference. He talked about knowledge building for successful system development and had very positive impressions of the event. He realizes that Saab need to take further steps forward in research and has already started planning new meetings for that with JTH.

"An opportunity for us to develop faster"

“We see that there is an opportunity for us to develop faster than we do today. Creating knowledge and understanding around the technology about what can be done and what cannot be done today and in the future is very important to us. The researchers at JTH have a very good grasp of that,” says Stefan Wärn.

He thinks that the SPARK conference provides inspiration, forward momentum and greater networking possibilities with other companies.

Cajsa Lundberg, CEO of Lundberg's press foundry in Vrigstad, emphasizes that the industry must feel that they contribute to the research projects in which they are involved in, and that the project responds to a demand for what they want to work with.

"Must be industry and customer benefit"

“We can not stand by and watch. The best projects are where the companies are included in the research process and come up with their own proposals for solutions. There must be industry and customer benefit to the projects, that they are marketable later on. We have good experience of that from JTH,” says Cajsa Lundberg.

She emphasizes that small and medium-sized companies (SME’s) that lack their own research department benefit particularly from being part of this type of collaboration with academia because they then get access to the latest research and also a large network of other companies.

A day full of inspiration and commitment

Salem Seifeddine, Associate Dean of Research at JTH and Program Manager for SPARK, thinks that the SPARK conference was a day full of inspiration and commitment that generates new ideas and hopefully facilitates more collaborations.

“The SPARK conference has become an important arena for industrial development in the region and we should be proud of what we contribute. It is a tool to promote technological progress and innovation as well as to preserve and strengthen the regional and national manufacturing industry,” says Salem Seifeddine.

Primarily with companies in mind

"The Manual for first-line managers" (Handbok för första linjens chefer) has been developed by a group of researchers and teachers at JU in collaboration with Fagerhults Belysning and Scania within the framework of the Reacts research project. In addition to Johan Karltun, the project group includes Anette Karltun, Karin Havemose, Denis Coelho, and Sofia Kjellström.

The research group has primarily made the manual with companies rather than the academic world in mind, and Johan Karltun is delighted that Fagerhults Belysning and Scania are pleased with it.

"Incredibly important position in a company"

“For one thing, first-line managers are an incredibly important position in a company for the business to go well, but there are very few publications about them. They are the most common type of manager and they work with staff whose motivation differs more than that of managers at white-collar level. In addition, they experience greater uncertainty in the operational business with more disruptions that can occur, while at the same time having to deliver on time and with the right volume,” says Johan Karltun.

The Manual for first-line managers has been downloaded roughly 1,320 times and the printed edition has run to 400 copies. The book will also be published digitally in English.

Download the Manual for first-line managers for free here (in Swedish only)External link, opens in new window.

See our filmed interview with participants in the Reacts research project here

SPARK Award, the jury's justification for Reacts

"This year's SPARK Award 2023 goes to a project that has delivered, not only project results, but also in practical benefit for those on the front line in industry. Through the project, conditions have been created that make industrial operations more sustainable and robust, where managers have been given concrete solutions to drive business in the right direction. The project's final product, a handbook for front-line managers, shows that research projects can lead to immediate benefit and development in industry, with rave reviews from participating companies!"


SPARK is a research and education environment within knowledge intensive product realisation at the School of Engineering, Jönköping University. Based on industrial needs, SPARK develops new knowledge and competence in collaboration with industrial and academic partners.