The Upptech journey begins
On Thursday 27 September, the doors of Upptech, the University’s new technology research centre, were officially opened. Ångström Laboratory was filled with university employees and representatives from the private sector, who enjoyed inaugural speeches, mingling, entertainment and dinner.
Business giant Anders Wall was one of many attendees at the inauguration of Upptech, the centre that will promote the University’s research, education and innovation in technology. The hope is to make the University’s researchers and students more attractive on the market and increase funding to research projects, with collaboration playing a central role. This is what Maria Strømme, Professor of Nanotechnology and Chair of Upptech, said in her inaugural speech in Siegbahn Hall.
“We want to work with more companies and organisations to solve the challenges of the future – and we have many of these ahead of us,” said Strømme. “I look very much forward to hearing what our corporate friends who are here today think about the challenges and how we can contribute.”
Niklas Malmfors, Senior Business Manager at construction company NCC, described the company’s vision of being able to offer the most environmentally and cost-sustainable solutions for the residents of their housing constructions.
“We’ve come a long way in many sustainability issues,” said Niclas Malmfors, “including how we should build our future cities, but in many ways, we are still Neanderthals. We’re far behind – they call us the ‘forty per cent carbon dioxide emissions sector’. So there’s a lot to do.”
He described Uppsala University as a fabulous partner and said that Upptech is exactly the right initiative.
“You understand the big picture,” he said “not only climate and energy issues but also the social sustainability perspective. That is something we want your help with and hopefully we can also help each other.”
Solutions combining technology and medicine
Lotta Ljungqvist, President and CEO of GE Nordic, talked about GE’s work and what she hoped Upptech could do to help them.
“Many people are living increasingly longer lives and want to be healthy at increasingly advanced ages,” said Ljungqvist. “This entails major challenges and costs, both for our hospitals and for our medicines.”
“One question we are asking ourselves is whether new materials can be combined with new sensors that can also handle very high temperatures and pressures,” she added. “If so, you have a smash hit and one we would love to collaborate on.”
Both GE and engineering group ABB are on Upptech’s board of directors. ABB’s Head of Research Mikael Dahlgren said that it was obvious for him to get involved, particularly considering the Uppsala students he has met.
“There is a curiosity and entrepreneurial spirit that I don’t see at other universities, which makes Uppsala stand out in my world.”
Many opportunities for collaboration
ABB works in an ecosystem experiencing many changes, particularly in the software industry, said Dahlgren. This is why it is important to speed up today’s drawn-out working processes and shorten the time from idea to market launch to under two years. The hope is to collaborate with academia to integrate the shorter time cycle. There are many areas, including materials science and sensors, in which ABB wants to strengthen its partnership with Uppsala University.
“Materials research is a field in which Uppsala stands out in Sweden and in the world,” he said.
After the speeches, it was time for drinks and mingling outside Siegbahn Hall. Here also was granted the wish by Professor Mikael Jonsson, Director of Upptech, for a toast by Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson. The evening concluded with dinner and a surprise when a flash mob of students treated guests to a dance performance.