22 June 2008

Two new programmes and three that continue

Use of the forest and homes of the future are in focus for the two new research programmes that Mistra’s Board of Directors has decided to finance. The Board also decided to continue financing three ongoing programmes.

On June 9th the Mistra Board of Directors decided to grant a maximum of 60 million SEK for the first four-year phase of the research programme Future Forests — Sustainable Strategies under Uncertainty and Risk at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Umeå University and Skogforsk. The forest and how we use it are in focus, and the objective of the programme is to develop useful and sustainable strategies for forest management in a future characterized by change.

The challenge lies in getting the forest to suffice for meeting many different needs. Climate change, globalization, and an ever-increasing consumption of energy and raw materials increase demand for forest resources. Intensifying forestry in order to extract more timber, paper and energy — while at the same time maintaining biodiversity, recreation and other ecosystem services — is necessary, and a complex task. Future Forests is intended to be somewhat of a meeting place for researchers from different disciplines and end-users from different sectors of society. "The forest is one of Sweden´s primary industrial resources, and forest land use has become a defining question. Forestry can no longer take priority in land-use questions: we must use the forest in new ways. That is what Future Forests is going to focus on," says Ola Engelmark, Executive Director of Mistra.

The programme will be launched under the condition that the forestry branch matches Mistra´s funding contribution.

Homes for Tomorrow
The Board makes its decisions after evaluation groups comprised of international experts review the proposals for new, and evaluate ongoing, programmes.

The Board passed a preliminary decision to grant a maximum of 45 million SEK for a first four-year phase of the programme Homes for Tomorrow at Chalmers University of Technology. The programme will focus on how to design future homes in a globalized world, so that they meet people´s anticipated needs while, at the same time, radically reducing energy and resource use.  

Mistra´s Board also decided to continue financing three of its ongoing research programmes. PlantComMistra at SLU and Södertörn University College was granted 49 million SEK for a second, four-year, phase. The aim of the programme is to optimize plants´ own ability to create chemical signals to combat attacks by aphids, and to send signals to aphids´ natural enemies to attack. "PlantComMistra is a very innovative research programme focused on how one can make plants more resistant to different insect pests. They apply an entirely new concept and maintain very good scientific quality. I am convinced that when they begin to present their results other research groups will transfer their approach to other plants than those that PlantComMistra is interested in," says Christie E. Williams, Professor of Molecular Biology at Purdue University in the United States and one of the programme´s evaluators.

Sustainable investments
The programme Sustainable Investments has also been extended. Both of the programme´s sub-programmes Behavioral Impediments to Sustainable Investments in Gothenburg and the Sustainable Investment Research Programme in Umeå have been granted 18 and 40 million SEK respectively for a second, four-year, phase. The programme contributes to developing better analytical tools, and studies, for example, the extent to which environmentally-adapted investments are profitable for investors, companies and the environment. "Sustainable Investments can be seen as relatively unique, in that the two research groups complement each other. The Umeå group´s strength is that they have acquired a good understanding of how the finance market works. The Gothenburg group´s strength lies in studying market behavior and what drives the different stakeholders in the finance market," says Werner de Bondt, Professor of Behavioral Finance at DePaul University in Chicago and one of the programme´s evaluators.

Towards a Closed Steel Eco Cycle
The Board also decided to grant Towards a Closed Steel Eco Cycle a maximum of 55 million SEK for a second, four-year, phase — under the condition that industry contributes an equal amount. The programme builds on collaboration between a number of research institutions, branch organizations and industries with the overarching aim of contributing to ensuring that the steel and the alloys that go with it do not leak out of the production cycle. At the same time, the programme aims to get the production cycle to work more effectively.

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