Partnering event in Norway between mathematicians in academia and industry

A special gathering for promoting exchange of views and network building between academics and industrial researchers was organised as part of the conference Math meets industry held in Trondheim, Norway, on September 22nd and 23rd 2016. The conference was an initiative of NTNU in collaboration with ECMI and Nor-Maths-In (the Norwegian network of mathematics in industry and innovation).

We here briefly report on the experiences collected from the organisation of this partnering event.

The goal was to facilitate networking and inter-sectorial scientific discussions, aiming at joint scientific projects and research proposals as possible outcomes.

Because the participants had so different background, sharing experiences and gaining familiarity with each other’s work and approaches was an important part of the process.

The partnering event took place just after a session on funding opportunities (funding from the Research Council of Norway, from H2020 and from other national sources), this was done to stimulate the participants not only to generate common projects and ideas but also to think of how to fund them.

A number of (research) topics were selected. We have asked to the participants to suggest one or more of such topics in the registration form. Priority was given to the topics proposed by company representatives.

Industry suggestions for the discussion groups.

The suggestions we have gathered from the companies participating in the event, via the registration form were:

  1. Big data for production and reservoir optimisation. (Statoil)

  2. Machine learning Cyber Security (Telenor)

  3. Analysis of huge amounts of usage data from Microsoft’s cloud services. (Microsoft, Fast)

  4. Data analysis and challenges related to the media industry (Amedia).

  5. Numerical simulations of flow in porous media, unstable displacement processes (typically for gas injection), improved numerical solution methods for such models/equations, increased computational efficiency and accuracy. (Statoil)

  6. Multiphase flow model numerical solvers Production Optimization Data reconciliation (Forsys Subsea).

  7. Mathematics/statistics for analytics + Machine Learning for Language understanding and Personalisation (Telenor).

Discussion groups.

In order to harmonise the interests (and expertise) of academic and non-academic participants, mathematicians working in academia were asked to formulate possible discussion themes starting from the list of topics suggested by the industry. The final discussion topics and their moderators were:

  1. Porous media flow and multi-phase flow (Knut- Andreas Lie, SINTEF and Florin Radu, University of Bergen).
  2. Data analytics and Big data (Bo Lindqvist, NTNU).

  3. Health analytics and related challenges, e.g. language recognition (Fred Godtliebsen, University of Tromsø).

  4. Optimisation and inverse problems (Anton Evgrafov, NTNU and Markus Grasmair, NTNU).

  5. Business and industrial statistics (John Tyssedal, NTNU).

  6. Topological data analysis (Nils Baas, NTNU).

All main Norwegian Universities sent their representatives to contribute to the discussion, in addition there were participants from SINTEF (a Norwegian research foundation) and the Simula Research Laboratory. These research institutions have extensive experience of collaboration with industry. We have already mentioned a number of Norwegian companies who sent their representatives to the partnering event, in addition to these EMGS, Fei, DNV and General Electric participated in the discussions.


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We divided the room designated to the partnering event into different areas assigned to each of the groups and where people  within each group could interact. We provided flip charts for writing, where remarks and key-words could be noted.

More concretely the programme for the event was:

  1. Walk around and write on the boards scientific problems challenges and opportunities related to one or more of the discussion groups (20 min).
  2. See what has been written by the other participants. Use 5 stickers to vote the topics you think are most promising (20 min).

  3. Finally, a more pointed discussion on selected topics should take place. Write down (at least some of) your thoughts on the flip charts. (40 min).

  4. Closing.

We encouraged the participants to approach this event with an open mind, being willing to contribute with their experience and background, and being open to new scientific acquaintances and partnerships.

As a side effect, the partnering event gave to young researchers (PhD students and post- docs) a chance to speak with potential non-academinc employers.

We are currently writing a report on the results and conclusions of the partnering event and including the information gathered from all discussion groups. The draft of this report is available on the conference website under partnering event.

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