NEWS An international evaluation committee ranks Berzelii Centre for Forest Biotechnology at the Umeå Plant Science Centre with top marks. The Berzelii centre, which has been built up by funding from Vinnova and the Swedish Research Council, is assessed as an exceptionally strong research environment with basic research of worldclass.
Caption: Professor Ove Nilsson, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), is director of UPSC Berzelii Centre. Photo: Mattias Pettersson
Professor Ove Nilsson, director of UPSC Berzelii Centre, is very pleased that the research centre yet again has been awarded the highest grade by international evaluators.
“Since our start, we have established an increasingly close collaboration with forest industry partners to improve basic research while understanding the industry's problems and needs. At the same time, we have improved the knowledge base of the industry in profiting on our research output. It is particularly encouraging that a centre which is based on excellent basic research is highlighted as we have proved that the translation from basic research breakthroughs into practical applications does not take as long as we think," says Professor Ove Nilsson.
The Centre for Forest Biotechnology consists of 35 different research groups at Umeå University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences as well as six industrial partners. The objective of the research is to produce better plants and increase basic knowledge of finding entire new applications for forest raw materials, such as new materials to replace plastic, steel and concrete. In the evaluation, the interface between basic research and applied research was classified as “unique” and the centre’s excellent collaboration between academy and industry was particularly praised. Industrial collaborative partners are SweTree Technologies, Sveaskog, Bergvik skog, Holmen skog, Stora Enso and Skogforsk.
“This fantastic positive evaluation is another proof of UPSC being a remarkably strong research environment both nationally and internationally. Through the successful collaboration with the forest industry, the investment also shows that close connections with excellent basic research can be of great strategic importance and beneficial to most industries and fields,” says Marianne Sommarin, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of research at Umeå University.
The evaluation committee also points out that the scientific output was of very high quality with the “crown jewel” being the draft of the genome sequence of Norway spruce in 2013. Crucial for the success of the UPSC Berzelii Centre is a “strong, active and visionary board working with and supporting a strong director” to bring the centre to this high standard. The committee also pointed out that the Umeå Centre showed a “robust and effective” strategy for long-term vision and mission.
The recommendations given by the committee are to develop new scientific directions to strengthen the impact of the centre and to model the future economics.
Text: Carole Dubreuil and Ingrid Söderbergh
Translation: Anna Lawrence
The Berzelii programme was initiated in 2004 to lead excellent basic research with a clear ambition to proceed from fundamental research to innovations for commercial purposes. Four centres (UPSC Centre for Forest Biotechnology, EXSELENT centre, Stockholm Brain Institute Berzelii Center and Uppsala Berzelii Technology Center for Neurodiagnostics) were established and granted in 2007 by the the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovations Systems (Vinnova) and the Swedish Research Council (VR).
Ove Nilsson, director of UPSC Berzelii Centre for Forest BiotechnologyUmeå Plant Science Centre (UPSC), Department of Forest Genetics and Plant PhysiologyPhone: 090-786 84 87
Portrait photo for download
Editor: Anna Lawrence