Students developing business ideas through the “New Factory”
A successful Finnish model is being tested in Norrköping: the “New Factory”, where students develop various business ideas into solutions adapted for the market during their studies.
Norrköping Science Park, in collaboration with LiU and Norrköping municipality, are starting up Sweden’s first New Factory to provide students with the opportunity to work with projects linked to reality as part of their studies.
In turn, the businesses gain access to new knowledge through the students; they will also be able to buy up the results of the students’ work after the projects are completed.
The prototype comes from Tampere, Norrköping’s sister city, which for years has been pursuing innovation operations in old factory buildings after the textile industries shut down – hence the name “New Factory”.
The Norrköping version has its base, with its own laboratory environment, in Strykbrädan (pictured at right). The municipality and the university have contributed SEK 600,000 each, and the operations manager Fredrick Borgsjö is already on site.
“In Tampere, which has four universities, there are 1,500 students involved in 250 projects just this year,” says Mattias Severin, head of the Department of Science and Technology (ITN) at Campus Norrköping; he spends one-quarter of his time representing LiU in order to improve collaboration with the business world and Norrköping municipality. This includes starting up the New Factory, which is expected to yield the same good results in Norrköping as it did in Finland.
“It’s resulted in, among other things, a number of new businesses.”
The New Factory project will be implemented as elective courses as part of the normal education programme, and which can be taken for credits.
“It’s mainly courses in graphic design, media, and programming that will be included in the pilot operations this academic year and autumn 2013. Later, we’re counting on broadening the operations into several programmes,” Severin says.
He sees the opportunity for students to experience strong projects in collaboration with businesses while they are still studying as a good competitive advantage for the Norrköping programmes.
“Building closer links between university programmes and working life through concrete activities is important for Linköping University. It strengthens our role as a pioneering innovator of education,” said President Helen Dannetun in a comment on the new enterprise.
Norrköping municipality sees several advantages:
“The New Factory is an important piece of the puzzle in increasing the interaction between students and business life. A long-term goal of ours is to have more students establish themselves in Norrköping after graduation, and for more businesses to take an interest in collaborating with students,” said Anne Revland, Director of the Norrköping Trade and Industry Office, in a press release.
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Last updated: 2013-05-22