Hoppa till huvudinnehåll

Travel grants contributed to deeper knowledge and new cultural experiences


Five master’s students, Olivia Pivén, Johanna Dahlqvist and Svenja Haller from the Innovation and Industrial Management programme and Aleksei Kuchera and Douglas Redman from the Knowledge-based Entrepreneurship programme were in January 2020 awarded a travel grant from Sten A. Olsson Foundation for Research and Culture, to write their Master’s theses abroad. The travel grants contributed to deeper knowledge within innovation and entrepreneurship as well as new cultural experiences.

Challenges to AI adoption in small- and medium sized enterprise (SMEs) in Sweden

Olivia and Johanna used their scholarship to travel to the San Francisco Bay area, and Silicon Valley in particular. Their thesis focuses on challenges to AI adoption in small- and medium sized enterprise (SMEs) in Sweden, as well as solutions to these challenges. The purpose of the thesis is to identify challenges experienced by Swedish SMEs in adopting AI and, by interviewing companies and individuals with experience in AI implementation (mainly American ones), identifying recommendations on how to solve these challenges.

Olivia and Johanna at Stanford University campus.

What was the best part of going abroad?

The best part about going abroad was definitely to actually get to experience the culture in this very famous city. The fact that it is an area known for innovation, technology and creativity is something that almost everyone is aware of, but none of us expected that it would be so obvious once there. Also, being guided around Stanford was a memorable experience, not only because it was exciting to see the university from which so many successful entrepreneurs and scientists graduated, but also for the beautiful buildings and surroundings.

How did the time abroad contribute to your thesis?

The time abroad truly contributed to our thesis. One very important part of our thesis is to grasp the cultural differences between the San Francisco bay area and Sweden in order to be able to adapt the recommendations given by the American individuals and companies to a Swedish context. This would have been much trickier if we had not been given the chance to experience the San Francisco-area for real. Moreover, being able to hold the interviews face to face with the respondents allowed for a much more natural discussion which we believe contributed to a higher level of understanding and, in turn, to a higher level of quality of the thesis.

University-industry collaboration and its effects on innovative thinking among students

Svenja spent three weeks in California, USA to collet qualitative data for my master thesis. Her master thesis is about university-industry collaboration and its effects on innovative thinking among students. This topic is very relevant to investigate. On the one hand, one can observe the industry’s need to innovate in order to stay competitive and their increasing interest in external sources of innovation to do so. On the other hand, there are students that feel that they do not collaborate with companies enough and lack practical experience.

Bild borttagen.
Svenja in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Fransisco

What was the best part of going abroad?

The best part of going to California was to experience this culture of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Especially, the interview with Bill O’Connor was very impressive, because he is known around the world for his lectures about the “innovation genome” and he has worked with companies like Google and Apple before. I was very honored that the scholarship allowed me to connect with him. In addition, the scholarship has made it possible for me to get a broader understanding of university-industry collaboration across counties and to get to know the famous California innovation culture.

How did the time abroad contribute to your thesis?

The goal of this research project is to understand the value that the involvement of students in UIC could create and how the innovative capacity of students could complement co-innovation processes in the future. My time abroad allowed me to get a more universal overview of university-industry collaboration. Interviews were not only conducted in Sweden, but also in California, which is known for its innovative companies and universities. The scholarship allowed me to conduct interviews at the University of California, Irvine and in San Francisco to get a deeper understanding of how university and industry work together in California and investigate if that has an influence on the innovative thinking of students. Therefore, I ended up with a very rich data set, which made it possible to compare university-industry collaboration in Sweden and the USA.

The main goal of Douglas and Aleksei’s thesis was to answer the question what and how universities should innovate in order to improve the quality of their entrepreneurship-related programmes and help their students achieve entrepreneurial success after graduation. The focal point was to understand how these universities structure their entrepreneurship programmes and build curriculums. In order to investigate this Aleksei and Douglas used their scholarship to visit Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany to collect empirical data from some of the most prestigious and innovative universities in Europe.

Aleksei and Douglas outside Antwerp Management School

What was the best part of going abroad?

One of the best things about going abroad was to experience novelty. On our journey, we meet many interesting people. Some of those shared similar views on entrepreneurship but with different perspectives. It also allowed us to understand the motivations behind students, which was astonishing. Further, we were able to expand our network with future entrepreneurs, which could result in future collaboration. Finally, we got the opportunity to visit new cities and experience different cultures. This was a humbling and amazing experience, which we will never forget.

How did the time abroad contribute to your thesis?

The time abroad contributed in many ways. It allowed us to increase the number of cases in our study, which enhanced external validity. Furthermore, travelling to conduct in-person interviews conveyed credibility and seriousness. This persona aided us in getting the universities to comply. In conclusion, it facilitated face-to-face interviews for increased quality of data.

Travel reports

You can find the students’ travel reports, including a short description of the thesis work, on our Stena Scholarship website.

The Sten A Olsson Foundation

The Sten A Olsson Foundation yearly assigns two millions SEK towards scholarships to Master’s students during their thesis writing. During 2018 the Sten A Olsson foundation gave out 43 scholarships of 25 000 SEK each. The scholarship allows students to visit international universities and to create their own international network whilst working on a research based master thesis. The recipients of the scholarship should operate within the foundations prioritized research areas, Culture and Health as well as Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Find out more about the Stena A Olsson Foundation here.