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Up-Skill Project Q&A with MITC’s Jens von Axelson

Tue, 11 June, 2024

We took some time to speak about the Up-Skill project with Jens von Axelson from Sweden’s Mälardalen Industrial Technology Center (MITC).

TWI has been working alongside project partners including the MITC to develop a better understanding of how the collaborative integration of human employees with machine-based skills can benefit industry and manufacturing.

Jens, who is a Senior Project Coordinator, has been working to extract training needs highlighted by the project and translating them into training programmes for industry. This will be followed up by experts at TWI who will create a training manual for each item of hardware to be used as a case study, before conducting relevant training to partners and creating a self-assessment tool while also overseeing in-service conditions and usage by case studies.

Can you tell us about the Mälardalen Industrial Technology Center and your expertise?

MITC is a collaborative arena with interested parties such as Volvo, GKN, Alfa Laval, Mälardalen University and Eskilstuna municipality. We perform R&D with a focus on production development, but also work as a dissemination node in the region. I have a background in production development and have worked in, for, and with the industry in Sweden since 1995. In industry, I mainly worked with management systems for technology investments, quality, environment, safety, and manufacturing data. For a long period I was working as an industrial researcher, supporting manufacturing SMEs with industrial development methods. Along the way I earned a PhD with the thesis, ‘On the development of methods for transfer to SMEs.’ Before I joined the Up-Skill project, I worked for a governmental agency developing different support programmes for industry.

Why did you join the Up-Skill Project?

The Industry 5.0 concept attract me for several reasons. Firstly, I think that technology that is implemented in a company should have a clear a future secured reason. The concept, on a policy level, provides that reason. However, the concept is evolving, and different people have different views regarding it. Secondly, it is appealing to be a part of the development of this, where I think my background and competence could be useful.

How are these challenges related to the core values of Industry 5.0 and the expectations from the EU Commission?

On a policy level, the different objectives with Industry 5.0 are graspable. However, from a single company view it is not that simple anymore. Here the company’s business strategy and logic need to be aligned with the EU policy view, but that can be accomplished in many different ways. We also have a European focus where companies operate in very different cultures. To develop pathways that could support companies to be a part of this greater good is of course difficult – but we will provide our view.

How is your experience with Swedish industrial know-how informing your current work within Up-Skill?

Since one of my backgrounds is to develop and run development programmes for manufacturing SMEs, that is one starting point for me. One programme has been a Lean start up programme where we developed a methodology based on collective learning to provide support for what Lean could be in an individual company. The business strategy and the production strategy need to be aligned to be competitive and the ability to change and to understand these fundamentals are essential, together with expressed core values and principles. After running this methodology in approximately 350 companies we know this works quite well.

Can you please share more on the training course and the assessment tool that you are preparing and your vision on how this will contribute to the transition that the companies are facing, while at the same time keeping intact the core values of Industry 5.0?

Inspired from the ‘Production Leap’ programme, we think that an adjusted start-up phase could be used in the Up-Skill project. We are therefore developing a ‘do and learn’ training course for a company that will have Industry 5.0 objectives as a focus. Self-assessment is an important part of the methodology to provide a necessary thought process, both for the individual in the company, but also as a means for expressing the company’s core values. This start phase will end with suggestions and an action plan for further development in the company. It could, for example, concern development of management processes for competence deployment or how to, with a human-centric focus, adapt and implement new technologies. We also aim to develop more focused training modules for necessary parts of a company’s production system regarding Industry 5.0.

What do you hope the outcomes / benefits of your participation in the project will be?

Today we can clearly see how the Up-Skill contribution to knowledge could strengthen other parts of the innovation system. At MITC we also are a part of an EDIH focusing on digitalisation in the manufacturing industry. So, there we have already an open door and a channel to the EDIH network all over Europe. But there are, of course, other positive outcomes - such as implementing results into university courses and cooperating in other R&D-projects.

Do you have any aspirations to participate in future funded programmes, whether as a continuation of Up-Skill and the current research or in addressing other research challenges? If yes, what might the funding help to resolve please?

In this area, where the different contexts and system thinking needs to be in place, three years is quite a short time. We will provide results and some solutions, but also a great deal of new knowledge. I expect that we also will have a lot of new questions and a truck load of research that we would like to conduct after the end report. In Sweden, we have had a long industrial development history with a strong socio-technical culture along with a well-developed labour market functionality and cooperation between unions and companies. In Sweden, Industry 5.0 is already mature. So, from my point of view, I would like to see how to adapt the learnings that we have in different national contexts and cultures across Europe.

You can find out more about Up-Skill on the project website, here, and contact Jens at


This work was funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee 101070666

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