Partnership on a distance develops knowledge

Published: 2021-09-10

Pauline Mattson, Associate senior lecturer in Research Policy, and Claudio Fassio, Senior lecturer in Entrepreneurship, are studying how large pharma companies establish collaborations with international universities that are located in geographically distant countries. How are these distant partnerships initiated? What is the role of the individual scientists involved in the collaborations? And how is the knowledge developed eventually used by the companies? With an upcoming lecture performed as a Crafoord Foundation's science lunch next week the project is highly topical.

Congratulations, Pauline and Claudio. A year ago you received research grants from the Crafoord Foundation. Now you are going to give a so called 'science lunch lecture' called Global search for science: How do multinational companies establish collaborations with international universities?. Tell us about your research project!

”The specific phenomenon that we study is distant collaborations between multinational companies and universities. These kind of collaborations are increasing and we want to understand why. What drives this? And what role does the individual scientist have? Why do these companies decide to engage in this distance cooperation, what is their motivation and what are they aiming for? And how do they do it…,” Claudio says. 

Claudio develops it further:
”Examples have been seen during Covid-19 when it has been urgent to find the relevant knowledge to be able to handle the pandemic.”

Pauline and Claudio have used the grants to employ a post doc researcher, Maria Tsouri, to work with them on the project. Besides Pauline, Claudio and Maria, also professor Aldo Geuna from University of Turin is part of the research project: he has worked for many years on the research topic of university-industry relationships.

”We have never met Maria though. She started in May, but is still in Norway due to the pandemic,” Pauline says. 

How did the project start?

”It started with a lunch, a couple of years ago,” Claudio says. ”Pauline told me about her research ideas and they were very similar to mine. We realized that we could write a research proposal together and we did. The Crafoord money has really helped us, above all it gave us the possibility to hire a post doc researcher. That really kick started our project!” 

In addition to the fact that your post doc has not been able to come, has the pandemic affected your project in any other way?

”Yes, there have been delays and we haven’t been able to do all the interviews that we had planned. Without an already existing network it can be difficult; when you have to establish contact online from scratch for getting access to people. But for our project most of the data that we need and use is to be found on large data sets that we collect, like patents or deals between companies. Therefore the situation hasn’t affected our work that much,” Claudio explains. 

Actually both Pauline and Claudio are impressed with the help they have gotten through how the grants have been handled: 

”In spite of the situation the Crafoord foundation and the University were very flexible and helpful. The foundation allowed us to postpone a bit the start of our project and the university allowed us to employ Maria, the post doc researcher, even if she was not physically in Sweden. This allowed us to start working with her already before the summer.”

What is on for the moment and what happens next?

”Right now we have a specific focus on the mobility of individual scientist, how they move around the world between different sectors and countries,” Pauline says.

Claudio continues:

”Now we are collecting data, writing manuscripts and we are in the process of answering the first concrete research questions that we are analyzing. We would like to present our results in a paper next year, hopefully at summer conferences in 2022.”

Watch and listen to Pauline Mattsson, lecturing about the project at Stadsbiblioteket's Vetenskapslunch 22 September 2021:


Facts: The Crafoord Foundation and the science lunches

  • Holger Crafoord established the Crafoord Foundation in 1980. The Foundation is an independent legal entity, led by a board.
  • Researchers at Lund University as well as at six other universities in Sweden can apply for grants from the Crafoord Foundation.
  • The Crafoord Foundation's science lunches are a series of lectures that highlight research that has received funding from the Crafoord Foundation and is a collaboration between Lund University, the Crafoord Foundation and the Lund City Library. A selection is made every year at each faculty and representatives from the chosen research project give a science lunch lecture.

Learn more

The lunch lecture 22 september

Pauline and Claudio gave their lecture 22 September at Stads-biblioteket in Lund. They were introduced by our Vice Dean Maria Stanfors. Learn more about the lunch lecture

And watch it below!

More about Pauline's and Claudio's research:

Pauline Mattsson in the LU Research Portal

Claudio Fassio in the LU Research Portal