Published 2021-01-28

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Two new faces at Mistra

In the New Year, Mistra welcomed two former colleagues back to the Secretariat. Both Fredrik Gunnarsson (Chief Financial Officer) and Johan Edman (Programmes Director) have worked at Mistra before, and their experience strengthens the Foundation.

On 1 January, Fredrik Gunnarsson took up the position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Mistra. Most recently, he was CFO of the Swedish Research Council. Previously, he worked as Administrative Manager at the Knowledge Foundation and as CFO at the University of Gävle. Between 2007 and 2013, Gunnarsson was Administrative Manager at Mistra.

Fredrik Gunnarsson

‘Research administration is my strength, and I’ve gained ample experience from other workplaces that I hope can help Mistra’s work. Anna Jöborn as the new CEO was an incentive and I believe that, going forward, we have good prospects of simplifying the administration in and around our research programmes.’

With both parents in research, Gunnarsson decided early on to not do a PhD and end up in the same world. But there’s that expression, ‘a chip off the old block’, after all. Gunnarsson laughs.

‘Despite my intentions, I’ve been in research administration my whole working life. At first, it was a coincidence, and along the way I’ve made many useful contacts and enjoyed the role.’

He is very much looking forward to being in close touch with the research activities and taking part in the discussions.

‘The most enjoyable thing about Mistra is that you’re involved in the whole research process and get closer to the core work, as well as the benefits that exist in a small organisation.’

Bringing significant experience from both sides

Johan Edman, who started as Programmes Director at the beginning of this year, also used to work at Mistra. Two years ago, he stopped commuting from Uppsala to Stockholm and became Collaboration Manager at Uppsala University’s innovation office. From 2011 to 2018, he was Programmes Director at Mistra. He was previously Project Manager of External Relations at Uppsala University and also worked on research funding at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

Johan Edman

Johan Edman

‘Now that I’m back at Mistra, I’m bringing important insights from the university world — greater understanding of challenges and opportunities for research that leads to practical benefit, but also insights about collaboration.’

Edman will be responsible for Mistra STEPS, Mistra TerraClean and Mistra Innovation 23. In his view, a director of programmes has two key tasks. One is to provide potential for the programmes to flourish. The other is to create, for Mistra, a good balance between being an interested funder and imposing demands, while combining this with giving researchers freedom in their practice.

‘It’s been useful for me to be on the side applying for funding, rather than the one that provides the funds. It’s given me new perspectives, thoughts and ideas on how to best support and create opportunities for the researchers.’

Edman’s interest in environmental and sustainability issues is based on growing up in the Finnish archipelago near Vaasa and going on countless trips to the mountains. Working at the intersection of research, sustainability and practical application has been highly rewarding, both professionally and personally.

‘Working on and pursuing these issues feels important and a privilege. In the early 2000s, when I got my first real job at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, bringing in a social scientist wasn’t that common. In those days, environmental issues were largely about acidification, chemicals and environmental monitoring — scientific matters. In recent years, it’s become increasingly clear that we have many of the technical solutions needed for a transition and what we need to tackle now are conflicts of interest and societal problems, the softer parts of the challenge.’