The Academy as an important part of clustering and the green transition
Successful innovation and transformation are about multi-level collaboration. Between the private sector, academia, the public sector, and society at large. Therefore, higher education institutions such as Karlstad University are natural players in clusters such as Paper Province.
Paper Province’s vision is to be the leading competence hub for the forest bioeconomy. Key elements to achieve this are: industrial facilities, diversified businesses, infrastructure, renewable raw materials, and expertise in manufacturing, process technology and forestry. Much of this thrives within Paper Province’s more than 120 member companies, but collaboration with academia is an equally important cog in realising the vision.
The cluster’s collaboration with Karlstad University goes back a long time and spans across several levels, from networking and collaboration with students, to collaboration with leading researchers and research environments. In addition, the University has a given place on Paper Province’s board. Patrik Bångerius works as an innovation advisor at the University and has been involved in the board’s work for several years.
“Interesting things happen when you bring together people with different backgrounds, knowledge and perspectives to collaborate on a common issue or challenge,” Patrik Bångerius says.
He is passionate about collaboration and sees a broad perspective as a key to transforming Paper Province into the “Silicon Valley of the bioeconomy”.
Bioeconomy in practice
When Paper Province was granted funding over a ten-year period from the Swedish innovation agency, Vinnova, collaboration with the University was strengthened. The Vinnova-funded initiative, Paper Province 2.0, involves using regional strengths to build a large-scale demonstrator, showing how the bioeconomy works in practice. In 2014, Karlstad University became part of the Initiative, to contribute with a research perspective.
“Paper Province’s dream is to be the most compelling cluster that enables access to the best knowledge in forest bioeconomy. Everyone should know that this is the place to be connected to if you are interested in forest bioeconomy. This is something we are working towards achieving together, and we are well on our way,” says Patrik.
The funding from Vinnova, called Vinnväxt, has helped Paper Province and the entire region to blossom into a bioeconomy hub that attracts investments and innovators. One such example is Pro2BE – a research environment at Karlstad University comprising more than 40 researchers, established with support from Vinnväxt, the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth Tillväxtverket and the Regional Council (Region Värmland), among others.
Pro2Be focusses on the development of a sustainable bioeconomy based on renewable resources. This includes the development of new and existing testbeds, processes, system design and materials, managed in close collaboration with companies, especially the forest industry.
Paper Province’s relationship with academia also extends to the Centre for Services Research in Karlstad, one of the world’s leading research centers – focusing on service development and value creation through services – and the DAMI4.0 research and innovation environment, which promotes digital transformation. In addition, Paper Province collaborates with several other universities in Sweden and beyond, as well as with RISE Research Institutes of Sweden.