The RIT-project has just received the first report concerning “ongoing evaluation” made by Oxford Research, writes project leader Johanna Bergström-Roos.
In general RIT is seen as a unique project in terms of being designed as a Triple Helix cooperation (academy, industry, society) within the space business. It is also obvious that the strong expansion of Luleå university of Technologie’s research and education in the field of space has strengthened the University as an interesting partner for external partners.
Both these two initiatives are new in the space business and very welcome as they fill a gap that is needed. In addition, respondents believe that there is a shift towards small-scale, technical simplification and cost awareness and a greater commercialization focus. This lower the thresholds for the space sector and opens up to new entrants for new partners not involved with the space sector. Becoming a supplier to the space business is seen as difficult but not impossible, especially as the space industry is interested in getting more regional suppliers.
Most respondents have a good understanding for the projects activities, especially concerning the R&D collaborations between PhD students and space industries. This work looks very promising and some PhD students have even reached some interesting results even though we are still in an early phase of the project.
Concerning the other two work packages (establishment of a Centre of Excellence and initiating an innovation support system around the space business) the picture is not that clear. We will therefore put more focus on these parts in the following year to come: what shall we focus on within the Centre of Excellence and who wants to be part of this centre? How does our innovation eco system work and are its strengths and weaknesses?
The meeting points within RIT (Space Innovation Forums) have been perceived as useful and good. Besides networking with partners in the project and learning more about each other, some partners have established contacts with companies they previously had not worked with. This is good news and exactly what we want to achieve.
The respondents have different ideas about space-related growth in the region and three main tracks are mentioned: spin-offs from academia/space companies, development of current and future SME and development of applications downstream of the space business. The later has a big potential and it would be very interesting to get downstream operators involved in the project.
For the future the partners understand that, in order to progress, we need to collaborate in new ways, with new players and in new constellations. It is also important to work on a plan on how to proceed after RIT. We will need a common sustainable platform for growth in place to strengthen our competitiveness, so we will definitely need the Centre of Excellence that we are working/aiming for.
Other interesting challenges that were pointed out during the interviews are: to get the whole region involved (SMEs), to involve other parts within LTU (not only those in Kiruna), to involve other businesses and stimulate technology transfer and cross fertilization, to work on IP and the rights to new knowledge/technology, to strengthen horizontal criteria such as gender, environment and sustainability, to get financiers and venture capitalists involved, to mention some.
Regards, Johanna Bergström-Roos, project leader.