KI starts collaborative efforts with other higher education institutions
Karolinska Institutet has recently started a number of Vinnova-financed joint projects with other Swedish higher education institutions, to improve the capacity to collaborate. According to Pro-Vice-Chancellor Karin Dahlman-Wright, collaboration is not an end in itself, but rather a means to strengthen the quality and relevance of research and education. “By working interdisciplinary, we are able to adopt new and exciting approaches,” she says.
The Swedish Government has long signalled its expectation on higher education institutions to disseminate and share their knowledge. Karin Dahlman-Wright believes that, as an internationally renowned medical university that accounts for a large proportion of Swedish academic medical research, KI should set a leading example when it comes to implementing research results and knowledge.
Even though collaboration with the healthcare and private sectors already forms a natural part of KI’s activities, the way in which such collaboration contributes to societal impact is not always clearly visible. Karin Dahlman-Wright believes that KI must be better at drawing inspiration from those around us.
“To this end, it is our ambition for KI to be an active partner in KLOSSnet – a national network consisting of 35 Swedish higher education institutions formed last year with the goal to provide opportunities to share experiences and ideas in a relatively informal manner.”
In order to further encourage and improve collaboration, the innovation agency Vinnova last year invited Sweden’s higher education institutes to apply for joint project funding in a programme totalling SEK 100 million.
“As a result of this initiative, KI is now a partner in five projects that are being coordinated at KI under an umbrella project known as SKISS which aims to strengthen KI’s strategic collaborative capacity. Our hope is that these projects will in various ways demonstrate the possibilities offered by collaboration,” explains Kerstin Lundin, the project leader of SKISS.
According to Karin Dahlman-Wright, Sweden’s higher education institutions need to join forces to ensure that collaboration with society is seen as a natural part of research and education. “Joint investment by Vinnova and the participating universities offers us the opportunity to develop and disseminate existing working methods and test new ones,” she says.
SKISS and its five sub-projects have a three-year timeline, although the work will continue long after 2020. One of the projects aims to facilitate exchange of personnel between KI and external organisations with which we collaborate.
Karin Dahlman-Wright also hopes that the projects will lead to KI developing more strategic partnerships. “The more external partners we collaborate with, the greater the benefits of our research to society. KI already collaborates with a great many different organisations, but we must begin to work more strategically with respect to with whom we work with,” she says, and continues: “Our industry collaborations provide a means towards further exploiting our research results, while at the same time gaining access to unique expertise, methodologies and technologies.”
On the question of why collaboration is a more pressing question today than previously, Kerstin Lundin replies that this is because society at large is changing so rapidly. “If universities are going to keep up, we must be better at interacting with one another and spreading our knowledge in many different ways and through a variety of forums. In this way, we will be able to strengthen our research and education now and in the future.”
Text: Sara Schedin