At the end of the year, we try to sum up our business. What is a Science Park, and what does the municipality-owned Science Park company do?
The science park’s role, in Sweden as well as in the rest of the world, has since the first Park saw the light of day in the 1950s, adapted to meet current needs. However, what has been constant over the years is the role of intersection agent between academia and business, between people, ideas, and industries. The focus has changed from being merely a physical bridge to actively stimulating and encouraging meetings and open collaboration, both by building a community characterized by openness, trust, curiosity, and sharing, but also by the use of collaboration and innovation processes. Science parks are always established as a long-term business support initiative rather than as a temporary project effort. The long-term perspective, together with its neutral position in the triple helix intersection, makes the Park an excellent platform for conducting and coordinating a proactive transition of business and society towards sustainable growth.
The company’s main task is to stimulate growth in knowledge-intensive technology companies and to promote entrepreneurship and the creation of new companies, a work that is done in close collaboration with Linköping University and innovation-promoting professionals in the region.
Growing companies create new solutions, jobs and increased regional competitiveness
The primary mission of Science Park Mjärdevi is to support knowledge-intensive and innovative companies in the startup and growth phases. The project “Swedish Scaleups” is a collaborative project between 10 science parks and incubators in Eastern Central Sweden. The focus is to build processes and offer support to growing companies based on the needs in the scaling phase. The project started in 2016 and is now in its second program period. In 2019 19 companies participated in our activities in growth support and 3 in the acceleration phase.
For growth support, the definition is broader. The focus here is to capture companies that have growth potential. Surveys show that the companies that participated in the project had a 50% better development than average companies.
-It is a privilege to work with companies in the growth phase, says Daniel Kullgard, project manager for Swedish Scaleups in Mjärdevi. Through our project, many companies have the opportunity to stop and reflect on where they are – and where they are heading in their growth journey. Through our processes, tools, and methods – and our ability to act agile, we can help build a sustainable platform to scale companies. For those who are about to accelerate, we can also provide individual support in critical areas.
Linköping focuses on climate, mobility, and sustainability
To contribute to Linköping Municipality’s ambitious goal of being carbon neutral in 2025, Science Park Mjärdevi facilitates networks, events and projects to help more people take on the challenge and create solutions that work for a sustainable transition. For almost two years, the Science Park has participated in a project on Sustainable Mobility as a Service, through the Swedish Energy Agency. The project has aimed to change towards a more sustainable travel, and in Östergötland we have worked to bring together regional players to build an eco-system, which can enable new mobility solutions. Another critical process in the project was that Sweden conducted an international innovation competition, “A challenge from Sweden,” to find new mobility solutions that can be tested on a large scale in Sweden. Mjärdevi participated in the jury, which evaluated the solutions. Three solutions were selected, of which one – the Kyyti Group, will be tested in Linköping next year. Eight players have joined forces to apply for a comprehensive approach to mobility as a service, and to create a digital platform, which will make it easier for Linköping residents to see the range of public and shared transport services as well as switch between and pay for the combined mobility services. The implementation will be led by Linköpings “Samhällsbyggnadskontoret” and Dukaten.
– It’s inspiring to work with mobility issues – and to do so with Linköping and Östergötland as a base, says Sandra Viktor, sustainability navigator in Linköping. We have great strength in being medium-sized and good at collaboration.
Another project that strengthens the position as a mobility node is project Elin. For a couple of years, different actors in the region have struggled to get autonomous buses to Linköping. Intensive work yielded results during the fall, and the rolling research project Elin has taken up Campus Linköping. Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, VTI, initiated the project in collaboration with Linköping University, Region Östergötland, and Linköping municipality. Mjärdevi is part of the project group, and the companies in Science Park contribute to the project with technology in both IT and road safety.
Sustainability has received a lot of focus in Mjärdevi in recent years. Among other things, a sustainability network has been established. More and more companies understand the importance of working towards the UN’s global goals to be relevant to both customers and future employees in a global perspective. The largest employers in Mjärdevi have supported ten points to act more sustainably, read more about them here. Even in Science Park’s own organization, the sustainability work has had an impact. Guidelines for sustainable events have been developed by the team at Science Park, which you who have visited Creactive may have noticed.
Another inspiring project is the Energy Collaboration project. The focus lies on conversion to renewable energy – and to increase commercialization and impact of new energy solutions on the market. Linköping and Östergötland are a region that has long been at the forefront in terms of renewable energy. And the project has helped to generate new ideas, but also to develop and redeploy existing companies and create new meetings between market players to increase impact for energy-efficient solutions. The project is implemented by LEAD, Cleantech Östergötland, Norrköping Science Park and Science Park Mjärdevi in collaboration.
On the theme of sustainability, Global Impact Jam was carried out for the second year in a row during East Sweden Innovation Week. Owners of the challenge this year were the Swedish Police and the County Administrative Board (Länsstyrelsen). The call was to prevent violence in close relationships. A team of 20 people with different backgrounds, skills, and experience was recruited and worked focussed over a weekend to find new solutions that might solve a large and growing problem. The activity was carried out in the Agora culture house in Skäggetorp.
Connected products and systems VS visualization and image analysis – two regional areas of strength
Two of the region’s five strength areas have some extra attachment in Mjärdevi. Since the Park’s origin 35 years ago, image analysis has been a top competence among Mjärdevi companies. Over the years, mobile communications and connected products and systems have become a core competence in our Science Park. The Park is today a huge melting pot of ICT competence in a broad perspective. Within the framework of the Vinnväxt initiative Visual Sweden, almost 60 companies have today worked to make Östergötland Sweden’s leading center of excellence in visualization and image analysis. Here is a great complement between excellence in visualization at Campus Norrköping and within image analysis at Campus Valla. Companies such as Sectra, SickIVP, Axis, Interspectral, Spotscale, and XM Reality help to secure our position, but also develop our capabilities to ensure future competitiveness. Visual Sweden conducts a large number of projects, which bring together actors from academia, business, and society to meet future challenges with the power of visualization.
Closely related to the strength area, “Visualization and image analyses” are the strength area “Connected products and systems.” It shapes the cluster IoT World. With support from Vinnova, an IoT hub has been established that will solve societal logistical challenges with the help of IoT. Among other things, new solutions have been tested to ensure evidence from crime scenes to court in collaboration with the National Forensic Center as well as how we can optimize energy production in the networks together with Tekniska Verken.
– It is fascinating to see how technical excellence from our region can help to develop new solutions in society, says Tsion Woldermariam, project manager at both Visual Sweden and IoT World. I have the privilege of working in both clusters, where IoT World enables us to measure and collect data with sensors. And via Visual Sweden visualise to analyzes, and make predictions based on data.
A strong competence center in digitalization
The collaboration Sweden ICT was established during the year between six Science Parks; Ideon, Blue, Kista Science City, Luleå Science Park, Lindholmen, and Science Park Mjärdevi. The purpose of the collaboration is to focus on digitalization, mainly in three areas; Cybersecurity, AI, and IoT. This will be done partly by identifying and initiating joint projects. For example, the partners will apply to create a European Digital Innovation Hub. Another ambition is to make available the digitization offers that exist in each region for a larger number of Smal and middle-size companies, SMEs, in Sweden. As a first step, we will conduct a so-called “peer review” to learn more about each other’s offers and capabilities.
The collaboration will also involve joint activities to attract international talent. To secure the supply of talents to the companies that are in our environments. And monitoring the world to keep us updated on what is happening globally within the ICT industry. Al to secure Sweden’s position.
– Linköping and Östergötland hold one of Sweden’s and Europe’s foremost IT clusters, and the concentration of companies is most significant in Mjärdevi. Together with other Science Parks with a focus on ICT, we have the opportunity to consolidate Sweden’s position further – and strengthen our capabilities and make the expertise available to more SMEs, says Science Park’s CEO Lena Miranda.
A new AI-node?
At the end of the autumn, Science Park Mjärdevi was commissioned to do a feasibility study for the establishment of an AI node in Linköping, within the framework of AI of Sweden, which is led by Lindholmen Science Park with support from Vinnova. The work will take place during the spring, and the goal is to establish an AI node in Linköping in 2020. The assignment is carried out in close collaboration with Linköping University, the Östergötland Region, and RISE.
Talent, talent, talent
When we ask the companies in our Science Park what their main obstacle to growth is, the answer is always “talent.” The need is enormous, and the supply is limited. The competition is hard. The Science Park has been working for some years to support companies in finding the right skills. Partly by creating an attractive environment in Mjärdevi by arranging events, community-strengthening activities, and facilitating networks focusing on individual development. But also by facilitating development projects with a focus on talent attraction. In 2019, a talent attraction report was launched. During the year, a new website for recruiting talent to the innovation environments in the region has been prepared. And also a campaign including both film and edgy content for digital channels. Aimed at people, we want to attract. The material is planned to roll out starting in early 2020.
Additional activities that are implemented to strengthen the connection between companies and talents are events such as a recruitment fair, a job fair and a research fair.
During the year, several activities focusing on community building were also carried out such as the Mjärdevi exercise race, the Mjärdevi open, the Mjärdevi relay and Mjärdevi by night.
– Talent attracts talent, says Anna Broeders, responsible for talent attraction and community building in Mjärdevi. We try to create activities and strengthen the image of Mjärdevi to contribute to the companies recruitment work. We have had a positive trend over the past few years. The number of employees in the Park has grown. This year, we have strengthened regional work to help lift our innovative environments in a broader perspective.
Attractiveness and our position
Mjärdevi celebrates 35 years in 2019. We have a long history of innovation and have helped to put many new solutions on the world market. For several years, Science Park Mjärdevi has collected stories about innovations that originated from Linköping University, Mjärdevi, Linköping and the region – and collected these into one alphabet. An alphabet with symbols that reflects the innovation power that is part of our identity – our history and our future. The work to strengthen the profiling of our innovation environment is ongoing, and during the year a new film about Mjärdevi was launched. The film aims to simplify for more people to share the image of our common environment when we represent the Park and Linköping. We are constantly working to attract more talent, more entrepreneurs, new companies, and investors to Linköping and the region. During 2019, the Municipality of Linköping has worked to develop its place brand. In the future, the municipality will strengthen the image of Linköping as the place where you meet the future. High technology and innovation are two clear bearers of the municipality’s brand as well as of the place.
In February, we received a German press delegation before the Hannover Fair (the Fair itself took place in April, and were hosted this year by Sweden). During one week on March 6 million people hade the opportunity to read about Science Park Mjärdevi thanks to several articles in some of Germany’s biggest newspapers. Including Die Welt and Süddeutsche Zeitung. Several companies from the park attended the Hannover Fair. And we tried to highlight the companies from Linköping and the region that exhibited on site.
At the end of April, Mjärdevi hosted a Europen conference for our international branch association, “International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation,” IASP. The focus of the conference was “Emerging Technologies and Tech with a purpose“. In September, we attended the annual world conference of the IASP. Linköping was well represented at the conference with three different Keynotes. Louise Lennersten, CEO at Interspectral, presented how their solutions can be a part of the modern industry. Fredrik Larsson from Science Park Mjärdevi presented the open innovation initiative Global Impact Jam. And associated professor Luis Ribeiro from Linköping University presented his research under the headline: “Cyber-Physical Production Systems – The Opportunities and Challenges beyond the hype.”
In December, we celebrated the companies and entrepreneurs who received awards during the year with a joint lunch for “Science Park Award Winners 2019”.
– Science Park Mjärdevi has received a lot of good press during the year. Both for our companies, but also for a number of the projects we carry out, says Fredrik Larsson, responsible for Science Park’s marketing and communication. I think it´s especially fun to see how our local paper Corren highlighted several female entrepreneurs. That’s a great inspiration for every young boy and girl in Linköping.
During next year, we will try to strengthen further and develop our positioning in collaboration with other innovation actors in Linköping and the region. With joint forces, we can have an even better impact.