Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions is one of the most prestigious research programmes in Europe. Daniel Yar Hamidi is clearly proud, and rightly so. The European Commission scored his application with the full 98.6 points out of 100 possible. Has that even happened in Sweden before? We'll get back to that.
First, we'll immerse ourselves in his research that has attracted so much attention both nationally and internationally. In autumn of 2016, Daniel Yar Hamidi defended his doctoral thesis on "Governance for innovation – Board Leadership and Value Creation in Entrepreneurial Firms". The research is about how small and medium-sized corporate boards can enable innovation and therefore growth.
"A common misconception is that it is only engineers who create innovations, but the fact is that boards affect the innovation environment more than we think. If the board embraces new creations and allocates resources for innovation, it is more likely that the company will develop and do well," he says.
The thesis, which also contains practical advice and tips to improve and develop the work of boards, has resulted in some 60 news articles. Why? Because it highlights something very important. Companies in Sweden and Europe have found it increasingly difficult to compete with companies in other parts of the world. Both labour and materials are cheaper in Asia, for example, and new innovations are the alpha and omega for small and medium-sized businesses when it comes to survival.
Service innovations are the key to success
Daniel Yar Hamidi bases the research project that he has now received funding for on his previous research. He still focuses on governance and innovation; the difference is that now he will specifically focus on service innovation.
Quick facts about Daniel Yar Hamidi
Age: Just fifty
Lives: In Bergdalen in Borås
Family: Two daughters and a partner
Wants: To conduct relevant research
Dares: To take on new challenges
Reads: A lot of academic literature and scientific articles
First memory: Cherry trees in the family farm in Shandiz
Appalled by: Lack of competence that manages to win over real skills in a world where alternative facts can prevail
Laughs at: When my shortcomings are analysed by my daughters
Thinks: That everything can be made even better
"There are new ways to look at the market today and it is primarily the service sector which is increasing and has the potential to create growth. We should not only think in terms of a product as we have done for hundreds of years. We have to think beyond that and think in a new way. Boards of small and medium-sized companies do not know how to govern to create opportunities for service innovation and knowledge is generally limited in the subject. That is why we are conducting this research: because we know too little."
That Daniel Yar Hamidi is the sole researcher at the University of Borås to have received the Individual Fellowship of Europe's foremost research funder is proof that his research has great potential.
"To receive confirmation that I am on the right track feels great; Marie Curie is the Rolls Royce of research," he laughs. "I have very high expectations of myself and the programme that I will undergo. I will be a much stronger researcher after this period."
What is your funding actually for?
"I will be part of a two-year research programme at the University of Wolverhampton in England and will be supervised by the president and vice-president of the European Academy of Management, which is incredible for me. Two years may seem like a long time but there is a lot to get done."
About Horizon 2020
Horizon 2020 is the EU’s largest research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.By coupling research and innovation, Horizon 2020 is helping to achieve this with its emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.
Daniel Yar Hamidi and his research colleagues in Wolverhampton are going to study small and medium-sized companies in the UK, Denmark, and Sweden, with a focus on their innovation processes. What are the similarities and how do they differ? Both qualitative and quantitative methods will be used, and the results can be revolutionary.
"The goal is for us to show small and medium-sized enterprises how to grow, how to govern for service innovations. This might eventually lead to new business opportunities and jobs," he says.
An application that stands out from the crowd
So what was the deal with the evaluation of Daniel Yar Hamidi's application? The European Commission awarded it 98.6 points and that is high, extremely high. The assessors are very strict and to get through, a minimum of 70 points is required. Daniel Yar Hamidi thus passed with flying colours. But if it is the highest number of points ever for a Swede is unclear.
We asked Erik Litborn at Vinnova, the national contact person for Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, and received this answer:
"The application is ranked as number one by this particular assessment panel of the European Commission, and if you look at all the panels, it ranks as number 37 of about 1,200 applications that were recommended funding in this year's round. A total of 98.6 incredibly good!"