28 June 2013

Waste projects linked by speed dating

A popular feature of the latest programme meeting in Mistra’s Closing the Loop programme was the brief meetings among its participants. This ‘speed dating’ will, it is hoped, culminate in new collaborations among research projects to attempt, in various ways, to boost recovery of industrial materials.

Mistra’s Closing the Loop programme comprises seven independent research projects, involving participants from both academia and the business sector. The projects span what are apparently widely differing subjects, from recycling of phosphorus from the chemical industry to recycling of vehicles. One key task is to identify synergic effects among the projects as a way of helping to solve problems and foster new ideas.

‘Speed dating’ was a way of discovering these synergies, says Programme Director Evalena Blomqvist. ‘One key purpose of the meeting was for the project teams to get better acquainted and forge new contacts. Many researchers and companies on the programme don’t normally work together. In some cases they’re even competitors.’

New collaborations and insights

The ‘speed dating’ involved representatives of the seven projects meeting in pairs at a rapid pace. In the short time allocated for these encounters, the seeds for new collaborations were sown and the participants gained new insights.
Present at the meeting in Stockholm, too, was Sofia Rickberg, the former Programme Director of Mistra Arctic Futures. This programme is structured similarly to Mistra’s Closing the Loop, with several independent research projects. Rickberg shared her experience of how collaboration among researchers on various projects and a sense of community can be developed.

During the meeting, the discussions also covered ways in which the programme can affect social trends and development. It emerged clearly that central decision-makers need to become more knowledgeable about waste issues and materials recovery. Forms of disseminating knowledge and generating discussion are therefore — at the Swedish Government Offices, in public agencies and in sectoral organisations — being planned.

Text: Henrik Lundström, Vetenskapsjournalisterna

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