The exchange of skills, research development and joint steps towards a sustainable society – these are key concepts for the strategic collaboration between IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and Chalmers. Together, the aim is to develop new areas and translate research results into tangible solutions.
“The point is not just to dig where we are currently standing, but to build up new areas that we can develop together,” says Maria Grahn, researcher in the Department of Mechanics and Maritime Sciences and Area of Advance leader for the Energy research field at Chalmers.
The research collaboration between IVL and Chalmers stretches back over many decades, but since 2019 the collaboration has also been formalised as a long-term, strategic initiative. Maria Grahn is convinced that the partnership means a great deal both to IVL and Chalmers, and that it is creating an exciting dynamic as well as an attractive research environment. IVL’s Vice-President, Research, John Munthe, agrees.
IMPORTANT TO COLLABORATE WITH ACADEMIA
“Chalmers is important, both due to its breadth and the fact that it is at the forefront in many areas of research that are relevant to us at IVL. For us at the institutes working primarily with applied research and the conversion of research results into tangible solutions, it is important to work with academia.”
Equally, Chalmers is an important recruitment base for IVL, with many IVL employees having studied at Chalmers. Both IVL and Chalmers also have the aim of creating societal benefit, and an important objective for the partnership is to develop the work on the global Sustainable Development Goals.
“We need to get better at understanding and analysing how our research affects the global Sustainable Development Goals. It’s easy to define the goals and targets that are directly linked to the research, but it’s harder to carry out an analysis of any indirect effects – positive or negative – on other goals. After all, one of the aims of the global Sustainable Development Goals is to not work on one issue at a time, but rather to maintain a holistic approach and focus on multiple goals at the same time.
If we succeed with this, we will be able to minimise any negative consequences and hopefully solve several problems at once,” says John Munthe.
COLLABORATION WITH INDUSTRY AND SOCIETY INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT
When researchers are given the opportunity to listen to society and see what we can contribute, we can quickly make small, rapid contributions that can immediately be translated into reality, according to Maria Grahn.
“There is an impression that the research should be completely free of influence, resting solely on academic excellence. However, there is also a reality characterised by a considerable demand to convert research into practice. This involves accepting both expertise and research funding from industry.”
The major funding bodies, such as Formas and the Swedish Energy Agency, are increasingly encouraging interaction with industry and society. IVL’s good reputation regarding environmental issues is extremely important when it comes to credibility and independence, believes Maria Grahn.
A LONG-TERM PROCESS OF CHANGE
“We are facing major challenges regarding the climate, resource availability and the environment, and most actors in society are now talking about the transition to a more sustainable society. IVL and Chalmers can do a great deal of good in this respect, by cooperating with the business sector regarding the development, introduction and evaluation of new solutions. We also need to create the financial conditions in order to run operations where research, innovation and implementation can interact in long-term process of change. Our funding bodies have a great deal of responsibility here,” says John Munthe.