Swedish universities merge in Brussels to enhance international research collaboration

On Friday, December 7, over one hundred guests from European Union institutions, Swedish universities and potential collaboration partners took part in the opening of the Universities in South Sweden’s (Lärosäten Syd) new office in Brussels. The main goal of the new branch is to broaden the participation of southern Sweden’s universities in the EU framework programme.

Universities in South Sweden is a collaboration between Blekinge University of Technology, Kristianstad University, Lund University, Malmö University, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Halmstad University with the aim to be able to influence policy processes, promote research and develop a valuable network. Opening an office in Brussels is a strategic step towards this goal.

Big interest from partner organisations

Rickard Eksten from Lund University is based in Brussels since September as a representative of the new office. With over 10 years’ experience within various EU institutions, he already has a strong network in Brussels which he will further develop in his new role.

”The event on Friday was successful, and we hope the participants left with a good feeling, but also that they felt a bit challenged by the discussions”, says Rickard Eksten, who mentions that there is a big interest in southern Sweden’s universities and their collaboration model among European partner organisations.

Important resource for Halmstad University

Halmstad University was represented by Anders Nelson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor with specific responsibility for collaboration, innovation and internationalisation, Research Advisor Lars-Ola Nilsson and the Deans of the University’s four Schools during Friday’s event.

Anders Nelson, who was invited to do a presentation about the smaller universities’ challenges and prerequisites, places high hopes on the possibilities the new office can bring.

”Hopefully, the new office and our common representative in Brussels will help in creating the valuable relationships with partners needed to participate more actively in the upcoming Horizon 2021”, says Anders Nelson.

”Compared to the ongoing Horizon 2020, the updated framework programme will be better accommodated to universities with experience in cross-disciplinary and challenge-driven research and innovation which is done in collaboration with the rest of society.”

Already taking advantage of possibilities

Lars Ola Nilsson, who is Halmstad University's EU Coordinator, says we already have taken advantage of the possibilities given via the Brussels office, for example through increased knowledge and concern when it comes to financing research and innovation through the European Union, among researchers, support functions and the management team.

”In the recently started project regarding our future plan for EU financed research, especially in the profile areas Health Innovation and Smart Cities and Communities, the Universities in South Sweden, the Brussels office and our representative there will be very useful”, says Lars Ola Nilsson.

”The ambition is to work more proactively and to build strong relationships with important partners for Halmstad University’s researchers to further contribute to research on an international level.”

Text: Helena Bengtsson
Photos: Private

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