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Innovation Factory: New Technology and Competence Development Going Hand-in-Hand

Innovation Factory: New Technology and Competence Development Going Hand-in-Hand

New smart technologies are not enough when manufacturers need to generate innovation and growth. In order to achieve success with smart production, it also takes competence development. Researchers at Aalborg University (AAU) will explore this approach along with 60 production companies and 10 technology developers in the Innovation Factory North project.

Technology development is booming, and the list of digital devices that can facilitate the work in manufacturing companies only gets longer. But, new technologies are often developed separately from their use in practice, and this means that many companies are not able to reach their full potential for innovation and growth.

Over the next three years, AAU researchers will head the project Innovation Factory North that will help manufacturing companies develop smart production. This will be done through mapping, testing, competence development and implementing a range of technologies that are available but often face difficult conditions finding their way to the production line.

The project was granted DKK 18.2 million from the North Denmark Growth Forum.

- Our special approach to smart production is that we are aware that the challenge is not only to develop stand-alone technologies, but rather to develop solutions that include both technological and competence development, says Astrid Heidemann Lassen, Associate Professor and Project Manager, Department of Materials and Production, AAU.

She is delighted that the North Denmark Region is so visionary that it also believes in the potential for innovation in the region's small and medium-sized enterprises, and the ambition is to give production companies a boost so they can potentially move beyond the Danish borders.

60 companies and 10 technology producers onboard

The researchers behind Innovation Factory North will involve 10 technology developers and 60 manufacturing companies in the project to focus on what implementing new technologies requires in relation to both the development of technologies and the development of competence of company staff.

- We are inspired by the open development environment at, for example, Daimler and Bosch in Germany. The German model cannot be directly transferred to Danish conditions, but it provided a starting point for the concept we have created with Innovation Factory North which is about harmonising development, research and industrial application, says Astrid Heidemann Lassen.

Innovation Factory North provides the opportunity to work with smart production and innovation on a scale that offers great potential for development in the small and medium-sized enterprises. Mogens Rysholt Poulsen, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Science, is very pleased with the close link to the companies.

- I’m thrilled that our research environment in smart production has received a grant of this calibre. This area is one of AAU’s strengths, and I'm quite sure that the project will create a unique basis for bringing particularly SMEs a step higher on the innovation ladder, says Mogens Rysholt Poulsen.

He also sees the project as fully in line with AAU’s strategy Knowledge for the World which is all about getting the research done in labs out into the companies, thus benefitting the wider society.


Innovation Factory North builds on the knowledge gained in a number of other projects, e.g. MADE SPIR/Digital, NorthVest Smart Production, Labour 4.0, i4MS.

Innovation Factory North focuses on three main activities:

  • Awareness: What technologies exist, and how to exploit them in our businesses.
  • Demonstrations: Demonstrations of new solutions built in conjunction with partners, suppliers and manufacturing companies.
  • Anchoring: Moving innovation back to the original manufacturer and building up the company's competence to translate innovation into new potential.


  • Astrid Heidemann Lassen, Associate Professor, Department of Materials and Production, AAU, Tel.:.
  • Sanne Holm Nielsen, Press Contact, AAU, Tel.: +45 9940 3517, Email: shn@adm.aau.dk