Professor Per Eriksson, Rector of Lund University

Thank you very much. I have got six minutes. I’ll try to do it in five minutes, so, I have a clock here so. We are happy to be here; Lund University is in fact the strongest Swedish Research University and we try very hard to combine education, research and also innovation and my own background is in fact that I have been running in a governmental agency for innovation and research for eight years and before that I was having a start-up University and Institute of Technology and we used in fact at that university education and research and interplayed with industry very strongly and saw this type of growth, where the university was located, into one of the leading growth area in Sweden, concentrating on ICT.

And so I was promoted to trying to do the same trick for whole Sweden and that is not so easy, but I was running an agency for innovation and it was very interesting to understand really how innovation takes place and it takes place not by doing innovation by yourself, but by interplaying and you are very dependent on the interaction. And I would tell you something about that and then, in the afternoon, I will expand a little more.

And I am very happy also that Atomium Culture take into place the very important papers and communications and I have been also launching program for innovation journalism, because excellent journalists that really understand science, business and also politics and policy are very valuable in the way that we could change Europe and be a more growing and responsible continent.

So, Lund University is quite a strong university where two thirds of our budget is for research and we are very happy for the decision of the European Spallation Source that we will build now in Lund and we are preparing for that. And we are very happy and it’s quite a change also for us and we think this is very good, not only for us of course, but for the whole Europe. But unfortunately it took quite a time for Europe to decide, so there is the same – but we will build it better of course – but there is already one in Japan and in the US, so we are lagging behind but now we are building as fast as we can.

We are part also of the League of European Research Universities and we are happy for that because I think we have to join forces between the strong universities in Europe in order to be competitive in the world and also to make Europe competitive. And of course we interplay with business and different societies around the university.

Then, if we compare – and I am little rude here – if we compare Europe with Asia and America, if we can see that Asia they are concentrating in products, they do also some services, but it’s products and they have this long-term perspective. For instance China is run by engineers and economists, so they are very bold and they go directly on things and they are really making a change in the country. So, they are concentrating on products and long-term perspectives. Americans, as we know, they are concentrating on business and they change: if the business doesn’t work, they change. And what about Europe? We are making discussions like this, we are meeting, then discussing policy and then we invest heavily in subsidies in agriculture. And then we complain that we are not so competitive.

I think we have to change and I think there are some good change for that and we have in fact to learn from Asia and we have to learn from America. And this, I think is the key issue for us, that we have to address the real problem and not just being polite and talking around, but addressing the things that are real problems for us. Innovation: that means in fact new successful products, services and processes and this means to interplay with business, university and politics.

Because it’s a knowledge-based economy so you can’t rely just on business, you have to rely very strongly today on university. So in fact you can say that you today don’t just keep it public-private partnership when you do those things, you have to have public private university partners because it’s a knowledge based economy and this of course addresses the university also to act differently and also to take part of the society and of business. And I am happy to say that the motto of Lund University is to be, in Latin, prepared to be both. You see, we have the lion there, that’s a book in the left hand and we have a sword in the right hand and the sword is then that we also would like to act.

And I think that we have to realize that the business of course is in competition worldwide, but also we, as university, we are in the world of competition and you imagine this world ranking list: we are on place 67 on Times Higher Education World list and we are happy for that and we try to go up, higher. But also policy, politics are in competition: if the policy is not good, we will lose jobs and we will lose competent people, so that’s the reason why policy is so important and we have to form centres of excellence, not only in research, but also in innovation at our university. We have to understand innovation procurement to buy things that don’t exist and then use researchers and use agencies that can evaluate ideas on how to do new things. And then of course address small and medium sized companies.

And then, research by itself doesn’t in fact make any money. It’s in fact opposite: research transform money to knowledge and competence; innovation, on the other hand, transforms knowledge and competence into money and value. And if you have to make this really work, you have also to understand the needs from business and society. So, that’s a key question.

If you are running a university, you can’t just keep this innovation inside technology and science and medicine. So, I am very happy for our social scientists: they have ideas now on how to introduce projects to get rid of the homeless, so we help the homeless people find homes. So we have a project and call it “Housing first” adapting from other parts of the world and introducing a new way of new policy and I am very happy for that. So, this is also, could be also part of innovation and in the afternoon I will talk a little more about innovation journalism, that’s a program that we have introduced and this is very important. And it’s very important that Atomium Culture has taken newspapers and communication into a part and this means also that the link between research and education to business and for innovation be stronger and will be also scrutinized by good people from papers. Thank you very much.