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As HMS Industrial Networks in Halmstad, Sweden is about to launch its new product, the company has had the assistance of 42 “new pairs of eyes” when it came to business modelling and marketing. Exchange students, who are studying the course "Development of New Products and Services" at Halmstad University, got together to brainstorm ideas for the international company during two intensive days.
HMS Industrial Networks in Halmstad has plenty of connections to Halmstad University. The original idea for the company came about via a thesis project, and now the company, with its headquarters in Halmstad, has over 500 employees in 13 different countries. HMS has a constant need to recruit employees in order to ensure that it is always at the forefront of business.
– Recruiting staff with new skills is very important for us, so we are always looking for new people, says Henrik Arleving, who himself studied computing systems engineering at Halmstad University and is now a product manager at HMS' marketing department.
Henrik gave the foreign exchange students from Halmstad University a challenge i.e. to come up with new ideas on how the business model for a new product might look like with a particular focus on marketing the product in a new way to help reach customers.
– We develop products that communicate between different devices, and we are now launching a platform where our customers, themselves, can programme the hardware and adapt the product to their own particular needs, says Henrik Arleving and explains that this is a new development and, therefore, requires a new kind of marketing.
– It will be very interesting to hear what the students have to say.
Inside a meeting room at HMS, one of five different student groups are brainstorming as they approach their lunch break. The students discuss "influencers," bloggers, "Youtubers", that is, a wide range of tools and operators that can help enhance the product.
Maya Hoveskog listens and coaches. She is a lecturer in industrial management and has worked with the course for several years. Students performing business modelling and solving problems in connection with companies has always been a recurring theme, but this year the emphasis is somewhat greater. A half a day workshop has now become a one and a half day, and all students meet at the same company. Maya Hoveskog gets a real energy kick out of these meetings with the foreign exchange students.
– I really recharge my batteries thanks to this course. It is exciting to meet young people of today from all around the world who are studying different majors at various universities and sharing their different experiences.
Maya Hoveskog thinks that this challenge lives up to its name.
– It is challenging. HMS has extensive experience of working with both clients and business to business; that is companies. However, digitisation creates new demands and challenges and HMS has to constantly try to improve their business. A workshop like this gives students the opportunity to share their new ideas that are not influenced by the company´s specific approach. The challenge is tough because the students are more used to working with consumer goods, not industrial goods. What the students can offer are ‘new pairs of eyes’. They don't fully understand everything that is involved, but they are not blinded by the technical knowledge and can see things from a different perspective.
The 42 students come from ten different countries, which covers almost every continent of the world. For many of them, Halmstad has a much colder and harsher climate than they are accustomed to but Taufikatu Iddrisu is undeterred. She comes from Ghana, studies leadership training in Russia and is now on exchange in Halmstad.
– I like it here, it's a nice university. And, it is much colder in Russia, so the winter here is quite okay. I will receive my degree next year and I'm considering studying a Master's programme at Halmstad University because it is such a good university.
Maya Hoveskog explains that Taufikatu Iddrisu is not alone in her thoughts. Students from the one-semester long course have, over the years, come back to Halmstad to do a Master's programme, which of course says something about the standard of the university, says Maya Hoveskog.
For Gabriel Zunino Packer from Brazil, the numerous exchanges with companies is something very new.
– I am used to see that what happens at school stays at school.
He is studying construction engineering and explains that the Internet of Things and open source codes that are shared between programmers online is something new for him – something more abstract. But technology is all around us now and an important aspect, when constructing new homes.
Gabriel Zunino Packer is not considering settling in Halmstad.
– It's too cold, he says.
He could have considered Halmstad if he had been given the same opportunity as this one HMS guide for the day, Michal Lysek. Michal started working as a software developer at HMS in 2012; however, since 2014, he is an industrial PhD student in Innovation Science at Halmstad University, but still employed by HMS.
– HMS is an innovative company that was created from an innovation. My job is to study how innovative HMS was in the past, how innovative they are at present, and how they can continue to be innovative in the future, says Michal who is studying and working at the same time with innovation-related projects at the company.
– I really enjoy it. I can create synergies between my research and my work at HMS. I learn from both aspects and plan my time independently.
Text: LOTTA ANDERSSON translation: NICHOLAS LLOYD-PUGH
Photo: IDA FRIDVALL