Creative collaboration between business and academia
Just over 40 years of age, Luleå University of Technology – LTU – is one of Sweden’s youngest higher education institutions. The emergence and development of the university is closely linked with the region’s extensive mining and mineral industry – today, LTU is renowned as one of Europe’s most comprehensive universities in the field.
“We work broadly with everything from planning and development to mining operations, mineral economics and “soft” issues such as gender studies within the industry,” explains Pär Weihed, Professor of Ore Geology and Assistant Vice Chancellor for the mining sector.
Ever since the 1970s, the mining sector has shown a keen interest in collaborating with LTU. The Hjalmar Lundbohm Research Center is a prominent example of the partnership between industry and academia. Here, LKAB has invested 11.5 million Euros into needs-related research which not only benefits the company but the industry as a whole.
“It’s a win-win situation for all concerned. The university has played a key role in developing excellence within the industry. LTU is fully committed to leading the way in the field of research and education. Education is fundamental when it comes to developing expertise for the industry, and 60–70% of the engineers working in the region’s mines come from LTU,” explains Weihed.
“The industry can face the future with confidence. The geological conditions in Norrbotten and Västerbotten are excellent, and from an international perspective, the region remains under-explored. There are few areas in Europe offering such favourable conditions, including excellent infrastructure, sound expertise, low energy prices and stable electricity sales. In my view, there is a great deal remaining to discover and exploit,” he adds.
LTU was recently appointed Nordic coordinator for research in the field of minerals, as part of the NordMin project, which runs from 2012 to 2015. The project is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers, with DKK 10 million a year being channelled into the initiative over a three-year period. NordMin’s mandate is to make the Nordic mining and mineral sector more competitive, and contribute towards green, sustainable growth in the industry.
“It is a great honour for LTU to be given the role of coordinator for this network, and this confirms our strong status in the field of research and development in the mining and mineral sector. This is a major project which has just begun, and I look forward to playing a part in further expanding and reinforcing networks between academia and industry across the Nordic region. We have everything to gain by working together,” says Pär Weihed.