How does it work in practice?

It is up to the universities and the business sector to determine and design how a project is co-produced, but there are some basic requirements set by the Knowledge Foundation:

  • As a rule, the value of the involvement of the business sector – in the form of competence, equipment and so on – must be at least equivalent to the amount contributed by the Knowledge Foundation (excluding overheads).
  • Some of our programmes does not require co-funding from the business sector. However, these programmes require engagement from business sector partners that is clear and sufficiently comprehensive to ensure benefits to the business partners from the project. The criteria for the respective programme can be found in the calls for proposals.
  • All project applications must include a letter of intent from each co-producing company. These should set out the company’s commitment, own activities and role in the project, and grounds for and value of its participation. Proof of co-funding/involvement will then be followed up at the end of the project.
  • The Foundation does not fund commissioned research or commissioned education, which is why in principle there must always be at least two independent companies involved in each project.

Co-produced research

In a project funded by the Knowledge Foundation, researchers and companies work together to formulate research questions, solve problems, analyse, test and evaluate to achieve scientific results that also provide benefit for participating companies.

The Foundation’s toolbox includes several programmes to which Sweden’s university colleges and newer universities can apply for funding to co-produce research with the business sector:

In the Hög programme, researchers and companies carry out a research project in which they jointly address a scientific question. In the more extensive Synergi programme, researchers and companies run several sub-projects and jointly address a shared core issue. Both programmes seek to generate new knowledge, enhance competence, build more effective tools, or provide an opportunity to be first with a unique technology or method.

The Forskarprofiler programme involves long-term initiatives that in terms of their length and size seek to create both in-depth relationships between a university and participating companies, and new collaborations between the companies included in the initiative. There is time for joint research results to be translated and implemented in the companies’ own operations, and the initiatives open an opportunity for a research and educational environment to further develop a designated and strategically important research domain with good potential for international prominence.

The Prospekt programme gives early career researchers an opportunity to independently run a research project in collaboration with business partners. The objective is for the researcher to develop professionally, gaining qualifications for their ongoing academic career while contributing to development and renewal of the university and participating companies.

The Företagsforskarskolor programme develops and implements third cycle programmes in collaboration with the business sector. The projects focus on relevant research problems, provide valuable networks, constitute an important element in the provision of competence of the business sector and can provide a genuine skill boost for a whole industry.

The Rekryteringar programme gives the business sector and the universities an opportunity to recruit strategically in the form of professors, guest professors, associate senior lecturers, senior lecturers or adjunct professors/senior lecturers for the business sector or the university. By strengthening the capacity of research and education over the long term, the programme enables companies and universities to build knowledge and skills in key areas.

Co-produced education

Co-production must also take place in the education projects funded by the Foundation. When developing education programmes, co-production can take the form of workshops, reference groups or steering groups with the purpose of defining course content and ensuring business relevance. When implementing courses, companies can for example contribute with guest lectures, case studies, internships and mentoring.

The Foundation’s toolbox includes several programmes to which Sweden’s university colleges and newer universities can apply for funding to co-produce education with the business sector:

The objective of the Expertkompetens programme is to produce educational activities that are tailored to the needs of the business sector and enable the development of the skills that the companies need to retain and strengthen their competitiveness. The educational activities are characterised by flexibility, enabling working professionals to study and work at the same time.

The Avans programme gives universities an opportunity to develop business-relevant degree programmes at second cycle level together with the business sector. In the previous NU programme, the university must work with companies to develop and implement business-relevant and online courses at at least second cycle level.