The Alexandra Institute // Expertise // Applied research, development and innovation

Applied research, development and innovation

We facilitate collaboration on application-oriented research and innovation based on state-of-the-art knowledge from the IT research environments. We have developed specific models for collaboration between research and industry. These models have proven to be an efficient and valuable path to achieving results of both commercial and academic relevance.

To achieve the best possible results, our projects always involve three parties: researchers, industry, and users. Researchers ensure that the projects have access to the latest knowledge, industries provide a business perspective, and user participation ensures applicability.

Read about our collaborative projects under cases and expertise.

Research-based user-driven innovation

The Alexandra Institute’s research and innovation projects are always based on issues of relevance to the participating companies.

Our projects are based on the method of research-based user-driven innovation. This means that IT researchers, businesses and users are involved in all projects.

These parties typically meet at workshops in all phases of an innovation process to discuss and test ideas and prototypes. The results are then incorporated into the further development of the project, which typically results in one or more prototypes ready to be matured. 

User involvement ensures that design and functionality are based on the actual needs of the end user, rather than on what is technically feasible.

Interdisciplinarity

We believe that interdisciplinarity is crucial for creating successful new innovative products and services.

A product or a service is seldom based on one discipline only but requires collaboration across several disciplines. IT-based products and services require knowledge of:

  • Technology – the solutions must be effective, reliable and secure
  • Users – user-friendliness, interaction design, physical design and user studies
  • Business – business development and business modeling

Our staff have a wide range of competences, for example:

  • Computer science
  • Engineering
  • Information and media science
  • Anthropology
  • Industrial design
  • Social studies

Our staff are experienced in applying their professionalism in collaboration with multiple disciplines, which is the essence of interdisciplinarity. 

Project requirements

Our projects are organised according to our model for research-based user-driven innovation. However, there are two additional requirements that must be met when a project is organised by the Alexandra Institute:

The project must contain international-level research 
The Alexandra Institute facilitates collaboration between research institutions and businesses. If a project does not contain high-level research, it is not relevant to involve researchers. 

At least one business must agree to participate in the project 
Likewise, the project must be relevant to at least one business, and the participating businesses must be prepared to contribute to the implementation of the project. This may be in the form of employee resources or a financial contribution. 

Project model

All our research and innovation projects are organised according to the Alexandra model which has two principal dimensions:

Corporate dimension
The project is organised as an innovation project. A number of relevant cases based on a company´s specific challenges and needs are outlined. The combination of company cases and research competences generate business-oriented results such as analysis, prototype and design.

Research dimension
The project is organised as a research project. The parties formulate a number of themes that are interesting from a research point of view. When during the project these research themes are brought into play in relation to the needs of the company, the outcome is research results such as scientific articles and development of theory and method. 

In addition, there are different models and requirements for funding as well as a project agreement that sets out the terms and conditions of collaboration.

Project participants

For each project we establish a project team consisting of these parties: 

  • Researchers and students (bachelor, master, PhD level) 
  • Employees from the participating companies 
  • Representatives from relevant user organisations

It is important that the team is composed of people who are used to working in projects and understand that companies, researchers and users have different interests. Furthermore, the project work is organised in a way that motivates collaboration and commitment among the parties.

Research-oriented businesses 
Businesses participating in the projects need access to state-of-the-art research-based knowledge to enhance their products. Such companies are often referred to as ‘research-oriented’ and can be categorised into these groups:

  • Application of IT research – typically includes businesses that do not conduct IT development but use advanced IT in their products. 
  • IT competence development – includes companies that conduct their own IT development but need to boost their competence level within new techniques, methods and technology. State-of-the-art IT development – companies that conduct state-of-the-art IT development but need sparring from researchers on the latest results within specific research fields. 
  • IT research – companies that conduct actual IT research. It is important to emphasise that research-oriented businesses cover a much wider spectrum than companies conducting their own research.

Application-oriented researchers 
Researchers participating in the projects must be interested in and understand how to organise their research in such a way that it becomes relevant to companies. Most of the researchers that the Alexandra Institute works with are dependent upon finding partners to test their research results and give inspiration to new research activities. So researchers are highly interested in collaborating with companies on application-oriented research and innovation.

Project agreement

The Alexandra Institute is highly experienced in formulating project agreements that address key issues such as organisation, non-disclosure and rights in the project results. It is important that a project agreement is balanced in such a way that it meets the demands of both companies and researchers. 

A research career is dependent on publication of research results, and publicly employed researchers have an obligation to publish their findings. 

On the other hand, companies often prefer to keep their cards close to the chest to prevent competitors from snatching a good idea.

It is therefore important to agree upon the prerequisites for cooperation in advance. In addition, Danish law stipulates that public researchers cannot cooperate with private organisations without a formal agreement. 

The Alexandra Institute has profound experience of formulating project agreements that meet the demands of both researchers and companies.

Funding

The initial work on identifying a project often takes place in an idea generation process organised by the Alexandra Institute.

Funding is usually provided by the participating companies and from public research funds such as research programmes, EU funds, and research institutions.

As a general rule, the participating companies fund their own contribution to the projects. However, minor public funds are available in some cases. Some companies contribute to funding of public researchers in the projects – this is the case for PhD students, post docs, associate professors or professors.

The research institutions may, to a minor extent, fund the researchers’ participation in the projects. There are, however, a number of research programmes that provide funding for public researchers.

In general, at least half the funding should be provided by the companies. The general relevance of the project and the possibilities of applying for public research funds determine how large a proportion of the researcher´s work can be funded by public funds. A company can choose to fund either the main part of the project or all of it. If the entire project is funded by the company, we can work out a development contract.

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Management
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