It is exciting to be at the center of a global societal transformation and know that the research and education we contribute with is important for this transformation to succeed. It is also challenging because it places high demands on us. If we do not have the time, strength or ability to perform and deliver, other players will take our place, or in the worst case, the investments and establishments that we are so proud of will have worse opportunities to succeed.
The relevance of our vision for 2030 is becoming clearer and clearer: “We shape the future through innovative education and ground-breaking research results. Drawing on our location in the Arctic region, we create global societal benefit”.
It is clear that the pace of development is rapid. Last Friday, I had a meeting with Peter Carlsson, Northvolt, Pia Sandvik, RISE, Kristina Sundin Jonsson and Lorents Burman, Skellefteå municipality, to discuss how we proceed with our joint venture within the Artic Center for Energy Transformation (ACET). We talked about the challenges of recruiting students for our chemistry-related educations and what we could do about this. We decided to make a quick effort in the form of a film with Peter Carlsson that would be spread via our web and social media. On Monday, the film was published .
In addition to the meeting regarding ACET, we also had a high-level meeting with LKAB last Friday. At the meeting, we talked about our joint research projects and how we can work together on the major challenges that LKAB faces and which will revolutionize the mining industry but also create new products. The new engineering education that we develop together was also an item on the agenda, as well as how we best attract students to education and then ensure that a large proportion choose to work and live in the region after graduation.
Meetings with researchers
Last week we also had a meeting with Maria Persson Gulda from H2 Green Steel, where she had the opportunity to meet several researchers from different subjects. It was an incredibly successful and positive meeting that resulted in a number of new contacts between Maria and individual researchers. Here too, the rapid pace is clear; what for H2 Green Steel was considered to be "a little further ahead", turned out to be 3-4 weeks away.
I think many of us had hoped that the pace this year would be a little slower as 2020 was a tough year for many. But in all the meetings and discussions I have with companies and municipalities, it is clear that we can not control the pace, we can only decide whether we want to participate or step aside and leave room for someone else. I hope we all find the energy needed to step forward.
Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Vice-Chancellor of Luleå University of Technology.