Why we do it

A major feature of the design programmes is the close cooperation with industry and research. The students' project work is carried out in collaboration with industrial partners or research institutions including major companies such as Volvo Group, Volkswagen, Ericsson, Microsoft, Nokia, Telia Research, Electrolux and IKEA. Since the establishment of Umeå Institute of Design in 1989 we have cooperated with more than eighty companies; small and medium-size companies as well as major corporations. Amongst 30 to 40 projects are carried out each year either as term projects or as individual examination work. Project collaboration also takes place with our own research projects strengthening the relationship between our educational programmes and applied research work.

The objectives for running projects in collaboration with industry are:

- to give students the opportunity of working with important problems in a realistic context
- to give students insight in the industrial product development process
- to acquaint students with people in the industry
- to get fresh technical and marketing information integrated into the education
- to spread information about Umeå Institute of Design among industrial companies

The problems we are dealing with in these projects are not the same as a professional industrial designer usually addresses. We are working with dilemmas that are outside of what the company's product development teams have on their daily agenda. We often work with problems they would like to work with but do not have the time for. Our projects have a future horizon of three to five years depending on the branch. They are purely conceptual projects, only covering the early stages of product development. It should be noted that this kind of project does not restrict the students' artistic freedom, the extent of innovation, creative ambition or disposition for experiments. On the contrary - the students often enjoy working with urgent and timely problems in a realistic context with representatives from the company's development staff.

Work Practice

On two occasions during the bachelor programme students gain practical experience by working at a design consultancy or in the industry. The first period of work practice is organized and arranged by the school. The individual student arranges the second period based on a list of available consultancies and companies.

Additional Types of Cooperation

Additional types of cooperation between the Institute and external companies include conference participation, prizes and scholarships, student placements and workshops and courses.