Hans-Erik Eldemark awarded the University’s new prize for collaboration and innovation

For 27 years, enthusiast Hans-Erik Eldemark has functioned as a bridge between students, researchers and enterprise. He has tirelessly reinforced the University’s relations and collaboration with wider society. We recognise him with a smile on his face and an IPad under his arm, taking part in many of the University’s projects and meetings. Today, at the academic ceremony, Hans-Erik Eldemark was rewarded with the Halmstad University Collaboration and Innovation Prize 2017.

“This feels great! I am grateful, while also feeling humbled. There are so many people who have contributed to the University’s external engagement and innovation, besides me.”

Portrait of a man in an indoor environment

”The concept of innovation can be defined as a continuous movement and conscious desire to develop and facilitate our everyday existence. It can be done on several different levels”, says Hans-Erik Eldemark.

”All meetings are an asset”

Hans-Erik Eldemark is mainly driven by the joy and curiosity of the students. He thrives best in meetings with people and when he gets to be part of developing ideas into innovations.

“External engagement is as relevant to undergraduate education as it is to research, and it has both an internal and an external dimension. The concept of innovation can be defined as a continuous movement and conscious desire to develop and facilitate our everyday existence. It can be done on several different levels, for example with regard to gender equality, ethics and the environment,” says Hans-Erik Eldemark.

When asked about his recipe for success in external engagement, he responds:

“Curiosity and openness. Going outside the box, organising meetings and caring. But the most important thing is probably to have a general overview of the players that are available, among researchers, students, business people and financiers. For successful external engagement, you have to match the right players with each other and with the trends and needs of wider society. All the meetings we have are an asset, I think.”

Attracted by the bright new University in Halmstad

Sometime after his degree in electrical engineering at Chalmers University of Technology, when Hans-Erik Eldemark was working on a development project at Ericsson in Stockholm, he spotted a vacancy announcement from Halmstad University.

“At the time, the University was already known for developing innovators. I was attracted by the bright new University, and a move to the west coast suited my family.”

That was in 1990 and Hans-Erik Eldemark quickly became involved in what used to be the Development Engineering programme.

“That was probably what set off our external engagement work. As we needed active projects for the programme’s student degree projects, we visited companies in the region and encouraged them to collaborate with the University. We started to build up the database of business contacts that is still in use today.”

External engagement is promoted in our new environments

Hans-Erik Eldemark has had many different jobs at the University. He has taught innovation and entrepreneurship, computer engineering and computer communication, among other things. He supervises engineering students in their degree projects, he is an innovation advisor for research and is often on jury duty for the assessment of innovation issues. He does all this with the aim of acting as a catalyst for new ideas and developing collaboration.

“Our new labs and arenas are important for the future of the University’s external engagement. We must work for creativity and that requires open spaces for meetings across boundaries. Everyone has something to contribute, it is just a question of making the most of it. External engagement will be increasingly integrated in our activities over the next ten years, and the University’s role as a communicator of research-based knowledge will be reinforced,” predicts Hans-Erik Eldemark.

The young neighbourhood TV repairman

We have to go back a few more years to Hans-Erik Eldemark’s childhood to understand the origin of his drive and commitment.

“I have always created new things. When I was small, I did a lot of Lego construction. Later on, I combined electronics with Meccano and built meccatronic objects.”

Growing up in Hyltebruk, he drove his moped around with a box full of components and spare parts to repair the neighbourhood’s TV sets.

“My greatest passion was to repair broken gadgets – an occupation that I would like to resume”, says Hans-Erik Eldemark.

Hyltebruk is still an important place for Hans-Erik Eldemark. It is the location of his family’s woodland farm, where he goes to find peace and quiet.

“There, I like to sit under the maple trees and ponder. In silence.”

Text: Louise Wandel
Photo: Dan Bergmark

The Prize for Collaboration and Innovation

Halmstad University’s Prize for Collaboration and Innovation is awarded to a person, or a group of persons, who is exceptionally successful in collaborating with society and industry. The prize consists of a SEK 10,000 scholarship to be used for purposes connected to collaboration and innovation. The prize is awarded for the first time in 2017, and will given annually.