Bringing Research To Life: Why Businesses Must Collaborate With Universities

Earlier this month, Volue entered into a research collaboration agreement with Norway’s leading technical university, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Ingeborg Gjærum, Volue’s Chief Strategy Officer & Director of Organisational Development, tells us why this collaboration can impact the world.

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As NTNU alumni, every time I visit the university campus in Trondheim, I feel nostalgic and grateful at the same time. Nostalgic because I have many good memories from my time in the auditoriums of Gløshaugen. Grateful because I had the opportunity to be a part of this incredible environment.

Volue may be a new company, but through its founding companies, it has decades of experience. And this is not the first time that people walk between Volue’s offices and NTNU’s campus.

We have a history of collaboration with NTNU on student assignments, master's and doctoral projects, and summer internships. In other parts of the country and other parts of Volue outside of Norway, there is also a history of collaboration with universities.

Bringing research to life

Volue's vision is "to develop technology for a sustainable tomorrow". This vision is big and absolutely necessary.

In the ten years that have passed since I was at NTNU, the danger signals from climate scientists have only become more serious. And the time we have to tackle the climate crisis has diminished.

This means that we must act faster. Ideas and research must go into development faster, we must fail faster, and move on to the next idea so that we can succeed faster.

Before I started studying, there were two letters I was more concerned about than anything else: R&D (Research & Development). As a young environmentalist, I perceived R&D as a barrier because the answer to impatience in the face of lack of climate action was often “we have to do more research”.

I believe that we have moved on. We now see that it is when research is brought to life that we cut emissions. And that bringing research into society can go hand-in-hand with continuing research.

The agreement between Volue and NTNU is precisely about bringing research to life.

When businesses collaborate with universities, they bring research to life and in this way create high value for society, universities and the industry.

Ideas and research must go into development faster, we must fail faster, and move on to the next idea so that we can succeed faster.

Ingeborg Gjærum Chief Strategy Officer & Director of Organisational Development, Volue

Young minds don’t think alike

I have very high expectations from the students at NTNU and students everywhere. Perhaps, they are the most important part of why businesses as ourselves and universities should cooperate.

To bring new ideas to the market, we have to challenge ourselves. And it is the inherent impatience that I often see in students that is the key.

If I have to choose one word to describe how Volue has achieved its strong international position – annually, we optimize 315 TWh from 10,000 power plants, it is impatience. That and the gut belief that we have something to contribute.

Over the years, we have brought in students – I myself started as a summer intern when I was still a student at NTNU, and we have gone into the world and used Trondheim’s self-confidence to tell energy giants like Uniper and Enel that we know something important and that we can create value.

But our strong position will not last if we do not continue to learn and develop. I have faith that the students at NTNU will keep us on our toes.

When I was a young environmentalist, I had a slide that said "Never trust anyone over 25". I'm a little ambivalent about that slide today. The point at the time was that I experienced an adult generation that told young people that it was great they stood up and got involved, but that they should have confidence in the adult generation having control and taking action. While clearly, they did not.

If there is a place where I’ve always experienced enthusiasm, curiosity, and willingness to find solutions also in people over 25, it is in universities. And at Volue, of course.

Through the agreement we signed between Volue and NTNU, we want to nurture the impatience and willingness to find the solutions of the future.

For us at Volue, this is a step towards creating technology for a sustainable tomorrow.

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What’s next

This new agreement extends Volue’s relationship with NTNU and I hope that we will now see cooperation along even more axes – both in and outside the energy sector, and with skilled people both in and outside Trondheim and Norway.

No less than five departments at the university will collaborate with Volue within various fields of expertise, such as artificial intelligence, electronic systems, electric power, cybernetics, and economics.

Everything is connected to everything. Digital solutions are pervasive, which is why it is so important to have interdisciplinary collaboration.

At the same time, Volue has experts in Stockholm, Munich, Aalborg, and Aachen to name just a few. For Volue, it is about access to knowledge, access to competence and commercialising of research.

I look forward to seeing what we can create together. The sum of it can be ideas, projects and knowledge that impact the world.


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