Mikael Damberg visited MC2

Mikael Damberg, the Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, visited MC2 on 4 May. “The event was very relaxed and higly successful,” says Jan Grahn, professor in microwave electronics who served as host.

Mr Damberg had a chance to meet Mats Andersson and Joel Schleeh, Chalmers entrepreneurs who are developing local businesses whose customers include leading international telecom and IT groups.
Microsoft, IBM and Google purchase amplifiers from the Low Noise Factory. The products, which can be installed in radio antennas, capture weak signals at extraordinary distances.

Peered closely
Mr Damberg peered closely at small electronic modules that cost SEK 50,000 each. They contain tiny transistors—black dots to the naked eye—manufactured in the clean room at Chalmers.
“We buy the transistors from Chalmers and assemble them at our plant in Mölndal,” Mr Schleeh says. “Ninety-nine per cent of the customers are located abroad.”
Fifteen of the most prominent manufacturers of mobile devices and the six biggest providers worldwide are Bluetest customers. The Gothenburg business has developed a world-leading technique to test antennas for mobile devices and other wireless sensors.
“After 15 years in business, Bluetest is finally on the verge of becoming a big company,” Mr Andersson says. “Persistence pays off.”
Both companies originated from research at Chalmers, where Professor Grahn hosted Mr Damberg and showed him around the Gigahertz Centre and the Chalmers Antenna Systems Excellence Centre (CHASE).
The setting brings the private sector and academic research together in joint projects.

An important visit
The visit was important for both the minister and Chalmers. The Gigahertz Centre and CHASE, which are part of the Swedish Innovation Agency (Vinnova) Vinn Excellence Programme, have received funding through next year.
“I hope that we can pry ourselves loose from the eternal discussion about basic versus applied research,” Mr Damberg said.
Professor Grahn agreed, pointing out that much had changed over the past few years. Researchers are more willing to partner with the private sector.
Success is now a function of collaboration between the business community and productive academic settings. A large percentage of funding comes from the private sector.
“Chalmers wants and needs to be deeply engaged with industry,” Professor Grahn says. “We take advantage of their skills and resources, and they make use of our findings. Inconceivable just 15 years ago, interdisciplinary cooperation is crucial nowadays. The best researchers and a number of different businesses in the value chain collaborate. We have companies from six countries altogether.”

Liked what he saw and heard
The minister clearly liked what he saw and heard. Before leaving to accompany the Gothenburg Business Region to the next visit, he expressed a desire that other universities will learn from the way that universities of technology relate to the private sector. “This is one of the greatest challenges that Sweden faces,” he said. “We need to promote greater cooperation so that research findings can materialise as new products.”

Photo: Peter Widing

Page manager Published: Wed 11 Jan 2017.