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Study: Public research creates value for companies

A recent Novo Nordisk Foundation study reveals that private Danish research companies depend on access to researchers in the public sector. Researcher and head of SDU TEI at SDU Sønderborg Arne Bilberg agrees: ”Sometimes 1+1 make more than 2.”

By Sune Holst, , 9/5/2018

Along with its recent annual report, Novo Nordisk Foundation published a study mapping out companies’ motives for collaborating with researchers in the public sector.

Unsurprisingly, the primary motives for collaboration are access to recent theory, specialised knowledge and competencies of high quality. 
Thus, companies indicate that collaboration with researchers in the public sector strengthens the competencies of their employees and provides access to new knowledge and research facilities. 

As spin-off companies will have the opportunity of collaborating with potentially future employees, as well as having a say in the research focus. This is exactly how Arne Bilberg, who is newly appointed head of SDU Technology, Entrepreneurship and Innovation (TEI) at SDU Sønderborg, sees it.

- We always have a close dialogue with the companies that we collaborate with. We have some ideas, they have some ideas, and in this manner, we influence each other. 

Arne Bilberg says furthermore that as a researcher it is possible unintendedly to believe that you have reached the final solution to a specific problem, and then as a matter of fact you have neglected the company’s request.

- Good solutions only emerge when theoretical knowledge is combined with users who have experience in and hands-on knowledge of the specific issue. This is exactly what we intend to reach by means of our Innovation Lab here at SDU Sønderborg. We know that we must not hand out a final solution to companies – this is something that we reach together. 

Collaboration helps companies stay in the black

A good example is Auto Syd; a project that was finalised in 2015.  The project objective was to offer support to small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises of Southern Denmark when it came to clarification and development of automation solutions. In an unbiased concluding report, consulting engineers from Cowi estimated that the parties reached results that they would never have reached alone. 

- In this context, collaboration means that 1+1 makes more than 2, says Arne Bilberg.

Cowi’s final evaluation further concluded that not only did the value-adding solutions reach beyond what each party could have delivered individually; but significantly helped enterprises stay in the black. In overall terms, the involved enterprises experienced a total increase of 9,9 million Danish kroner in annual turnover, and as a direct result of the project collaboration they employed all together 13 people.

By collaborating with SDU Sønderborg, companies get access to 50 top researchers and more than 400 engineering students.

For further information, please contact special consultant Frederik Gottlieb, responsible for supporting and identifying collaboration with enterprises of the region. E-mail: or phone: +45 6550 1618.
Editing was completed: 04.09.2018