It’s of course extremely important for your motivation to receive confirmation from a company that the research you are conducting is interesting and relevant. That is something I didn’t have back in the days when I was a PhD student at Chalmers. You wholeheartedly devoted thousands of hours to something you weren’t sure was useful,” says Coldrey.
He is a master researcher at Ericsson, and through Chase he has worked with several Chalmers researchers right from the start 10 years ago. One of them is Giuseppe Durisi, Associate Professor in Information Theory. They have worked together for three years in the Chase project called Multi-Antenna Technologies for Wireless Access and Backhaul (MATWAB), of which Durisi is the project leader.
In this project, they are researching two of the most talked-about technologies for wireless communication: heterogeneous networks, which are designed to provide better coverage at high data speeds while also being more energy efficient than today’s mobile networks, and MIMO (multiple input-multiple output), which is designed to improve transfer speed in radio links by connecting several antennas together.
Chase has involved several doctoral students within the framework of the project. One of them is Jingya Li, who defended her doctoral thesis in 2015 and is now employed at Ericsson.
On a Thursday in October, Li is sitting around a table with Coldrey and Durisi in Ericsson’s premises at Lindholmen to talk about the Chase collaboration. And she is quick to agree with what Coldrey says.
“I find it more inspiring to work on problems that other people are also interested in. And the feedback I received from Ericsson during my doctoral student days was incredibly valuable,” she says.
“Within research you constantly come across situations in which you have to choose a path. That’s why it’s valuable to get guidance so that you can feel secure in your choices,” adds Coldrey, and continues:
“And for Ericsson it’s important to gain ideas from young, sharp brains that see things in new ways,” he explains. “The ideas are not always immediately usable for us, but through collaboration they may be realised in future products.”
Mikael Coldrey is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at Chalmers and is currently supervising three doctoral students in Chase. Similarly, Giuseppe Durisi has an office at Ericsson.
“We meet at least once a week,” says Coldrey. “Either at Chalmers or at Ericsson. It’s an advantage that Giuseppe can also sit with us; it means that he doesn’t just meet me, but also my colleagues who work within the same field.”
“Yes, that’s an important aspect,” says Durisi. “The fact that we have access to each other’s workplaces makes our collaboration much broader than initially intended. There’s a lot going on in close connection to the project that is interesting to us in Chase.”
The coffee breaks are important – all three agree on that.
“It’s important to meet, talk to people and get to know them. In that way, Chase has opened doors,” explains Durisi.
After 10 years with Chase, it is evident that the concept of a research centre fosters successful collaboration, by mutual agreements on confidentiality, IPR and clear frameworks. But how close is the collaboration? Has the “mine-yours” perspective disappeared?
“I am involved in many different collaborative projects, but when it comes to Chase I definitely feel that we’re in the same boat,” says Coldrey.
“There is obviously a difference between what Chalmers and Ericsson want to gain from the projects, but the differences are precisely what make us good together. We complement each other,” says Durisi.
Is friendship important when people work together?
“It’s a strong word, but trust is important. And it takes time to build up.”
“That’s what makes Chase unique,” says Coldrey. “In other projects you meet for a few hours three, four times a year, and then you go home and do your own work. Here, we meet continually and know who’s doing what and who to turn to with a specific question. It spreads ripples on the water and naturally paves the way for new collaborations.”
In ChaseOn, the MANTUA project will focus on the challenges associated with antenna systems that are compatible with 5G and high frequencies. Although without Jingya Li. However, she will not be far away, as she will participate in another ChaseOn project, which is focused on vehicular communication.
“I’m continuing to work together with people at Chalmers who I have known well since my doctoral student days. Which makes it so much easier; I know their way of thinking and how they work,” concludes Li.
Text: Lars Nicklason
Photo: Henrik Sandsjö