Road2Science 2.0 Strategic Plan
The strategic plan for Road2Science 2.0 is done by firstly summarizing the gaps (GAPS) that have been identified by the industry stakeholders that prevent the sector to grow to its full potential with regard to innovation capacity and economic, environmental and social sustainability.
Ensuring necessity, momentum and commitment
To ensure the long-term success of Road2Science as an entity, the Center’s aims must be directly linked to existing and/or future needs of the stakeholders(*), its activities must work towards meeting these needs as well as keep a flow throughout the year to ensure the Center’s continuity and its visibility. Furthermore, the Center should consist of a structure that encourages the commitment of partners and sufficiently supports its activities.
(*) ‘Stakeholders’ are referring to both industry stakeholders (including hereby also branches of government, such as Trafikverket, its agencies or municipalities) and academic stakeholders.
Identified GAPS by the industry stakeholders
In the interviews, all partners were asked to indicate where they feel currently the strongest gaps are in the sector as a whole and their own organization specificallywhich may inhibit their progress. Generally all improvements named were towards (i) economic, environmental and social sustainability, (ii) innovation capacity and the speed of their implementation, (iii) their ability to make smart new partnerships, (iv) their ability to attract and keep a diversity of talent and (v) specific improvements of one or more of their core-businesses.
These discussions are summarized into four main GAPS that, when overcome, would enhance the sector’s sustainability and its innovation capability.
GAP 1: The lack in ability to ensure a systems perspective
Many partners indicated that they know where direct improvements could be made within their own daily practises. Examples of large wastes of materials, missed opportunities for recycling, a lack of systematic anchoring of project-‐based gained knowledge within their own company routines… are merely a few examples that were mentioned. Though some partners indicated that improvements from Trafikverket’s side (e.g by giving bonuses for ‘good behaviour’) could make a difference, after a discussion, most agreed that the overall underlying problem lies in the fact that the sector as a whole as well as partners individually do not manage to systematically create and embed routines ensuring a systems perspective in its daily activities.
Overcoming GAP 1 would lead to:
- Enhanced efficiency through inter-‐coupled processes
- Enabled circular economy
GAP 2: The lack of reducing risk averseness that countervails possible creativity
The infrastructure sector is a mature industry that has traditionally been characterized by low margins, low level of competition and low level of innovations in the supply chain or practical operations. Risks are often calculated based on previous experiences, and taking unknown risks that go hand in hand with implementing new solutions pose a natural discomfort for the companies and is generally avoided.
Overcoming GAP 2 would lead to:
- Increase of innovation mindset
- Space for ‘high risk-‐high gain’ projects
GAP 3: The lack of long-‐term attractiveness of the infrastructure sector
Many partners indicated that a systematic recruitment of new and diverse talent to the sector is lacking. Also, new recruitments appear to very often change their career choice within the first five years at the company. Many partners indicated that they believe that the image of the sector (conservative, masculine, non-‐creative) is preventing the influx of new talents to their companies and a lack of support in career development is causing its outflux. Amongst these, women were often mentioned as a group that is severely underrepresented.
Many partners also indicated that current developments in the sector (e.g digitalization efforts, smart infrastructure technologies, BIM/VDC efforts) are in fact potential game-changers for the sector, but need a new kind of engineers that are able to work creatively with cross-disciplinary challenges. The recruitment issues could thus cause a slow-down and reduction of the potential of the impact of these new developments.
Overcoming GAP 3 would lead to:
- A mixed workforce that can handle cross-‐disciplinary challenges
- Overall enhanced intellectual capacity
GAP 4: Frozen market dynamics that prevent new collaborations
Conservative and detailed regulations often do not allow new ideas to be easily implemented and getting new standards in place is often a long and tedious process. Additionally, given the high start-‐up costs associated with infrastructure projects, the long-‐term horizon when accounting for maintenance, the national infrastructure markets are most often limited to only a few players. Over the years, such partners find a balance on the market, which makes it hard for new
players to enter this sector and does not encourage implementation of innovations from potentially new, nor from the existing stakeholders.
Overcoming GAP 4 would lead to:
- Healthier market dynamics
- Shorter invention to implementation timelines