Swedish trading companies need knowledge and skills to strengthen their competitiveness on the global market, where digitalisation is growing fast and changes the conditions. Now, with support from the Knowledge Foundation, the University of Borås and Jönköping University start the industrial graduate school INSiDR with a focus on digital retailing.
The doctoral students will address research issues linked to the business challenges that come with digital transformation. For example, all actors on the retailing market need to be better at understanding and predicting consumer behaviour in order to design and develop successful business solutions.
Both the University of Borås and Jönköping University already conduct research and education in close collaboration between business administration, specialised on marketing, and informatics/computer science, with a focus on data analysis. A common strength for both universities is digital retailing. The doctoral students’ thesis projects will be based on both the research conducted by the two universities and the specific questions identified by the project’s business partners.
“The doctoral students at this industrial graduate school will offer the market important and unique competences, based on the two universities’ multidisciplinary environment and focus”, says Jenny Balkow, senior lecturer at the University of Borås and project leader of INSiDR.
The preparations for the industrial graduate school starts in March 2018, and the first group of about ten doctoral students start their studies this autumn. Most of them will be employed by the companies involved in the project and focus on their research studies 80 % of their time and work the remaining 20 % at the companies.
“In this way, the doctoral students can implement and communicate their results into the organization. We will also have joint work meetings every semester to make sure that all companies, doctoral students, and supervisors take part of the progress in the different projects”, Jenny Balkow explains.
Besides INSiDR, the Knowledge Foundation currently supports another 11 industrial graduate schools with a total of approximately 210 doctoral students.
“We have very good experiences of industrial graduate schools as a collaboration form”, says Stefan Östholm, operations manager at the Knowledge Foundation. “This is a win-win concept for all parties. An industrial graduate school gives a big boost of competence to a whole or a part of an industry, and at the same time the surrounding society benefits from more competitive companies.”
Anders Halvarsson, associate of Ellos Group, explains why they participate in the project:
“It’s very important that the industry gets competent employees who can lead as well as develop research in the digital field. The employees that we educate in the research school will be given a key role in the company when they are finished, and during their education they will also be able to contribute with valuable information into the company”, he says.
The project INSiDR (Industrial Graduate School in Digital Retailing) is financed by SEK 21.6 million from the Knowledge Foundation, and the same amount from the participating companies.
At the moment, the following companies are involved in the project: Ellos Group, Eton, Odyssey, Swedbank Sjuhärad, Tieto, Viskan System AB.
The project runs from 1 March 2018 to 28 February 2024, or 2026 if a second group of doctoral students are admitted in 2020.
The main applicant of the project is Jönköping University, with Jönköping International Business School and the School of Engineering collaborating in the project. The project owner is the University of Borås, and the industrial graduate school is mainly run and administered from Borås, with scientific leadership from both universities.