Collaboration is golden
Theory and practice, research and business go hand in hand in the collaboration between Exformatics and the IT University. A collaboration creating value for both parties.
That the ability to collaborate can be extremely valuable is no secret and in the case of Exformatics, a market leader in solutions for information management and effective digital work processes, the collaboration with the IT University and associate professor Thomas Hildebrandt has been tight and fruitful since 2006.
In short it gives Hildebrandt and current Industrial Ph.D., Tijs Slaats, the opportunity to test research results in real life, while Exformatics achieves a rare certainty that the products they launch will in fact work as intended.
“We benefit a lot from each other. A businessman and a researcher have entirely different goals and this is why we need each other: We are, in our own sense, both of us, market makers. The ITU seeks to create a new field of research and we seek to create a new market. In order to do this we need each other,” says Exformatics CEO, Morten Marquard, who especially sees value in the possibility to test ideas on the highest level.
“We are left with products that we are completely positive will work. This is not normally the case if a company develops new products or develops its product portfolio, but the collaboration with Thomas and Tijs ensures the quality of work in the development phase. Working with researchers in development is time consuming but it’s datalogically sound, so to say, as the end result will be correct.”
The business collaboration stands as a win-win-win situation. The ITU gains a competent Ph.D. graduate, publications, and potential access to further collaborations with other companies, not least among Exformatics’ existing clients, while Thomas Hildebrandt and Tijs Slaats use the company to obtain answers to the ever-important questions about their research: What works? And what doesn’t work?
“We get extremely valuable feedback on our research - such as which problems arise in real life and which problems we should do further research on - as well as a truly gratifying opportunity to see that what we do actually works and has value to Exformatics’ clients,” says Thomas Hildebrandt and identifies one challenge in the meeting between university and business to be aware of.
“It’s always a challenge that money is to be made within a fairly short timeframe and that companies are sensitive to fluctuations of the market. But in this case Exformatics has had a solid customer base which has made it possible to invest money in research and product development, while they’ve also had a deep understanding for the fact that research takes time,” says Hildebrandt who can’t but recommend other companies and researchers to strike up collaborations whenever possible.
Morten Marquard won’t give such a recommendation.“I don’t need the competition,” he laughs. He is, however, willing to list more of the advantages for his business in the collaboration with the ITU.
“Our expenses in this collaboration are Tijs’ paycheck and our own time. He gives us A-grade sparring on our product which is otherwise hard to obtain. It’s similar to having an advisory board or a board of directors living in your office, really. Another benefit is the sheer amount of contacts we get at the ITU which means that we are now looking into other projects to invest in and be a part of,” he says and reveals that Exformatics are already quite far in the process of establishing new collaborations with the ITU.