Lund Sweden: An Area of Innovation

Lund Sweden: An Area of Innovation from The Research Triangle Park on Vimeo.

The City of Lund is picturesque and captures everything wonderful about a historic university town in a European setting. The city has many wonderful examples of how art and culture collide with society and academia throughout its beautifully cobbled streets, open plazas and green parks.

Lund University, located in the city center, is the oldest University in the Nordics. Founded in 1666 the institution has 41,000 students with 7,500 employees and returns over €800 million back to the Swedish economy every year. With four different campuses spread throughout Sweden (Helsingborg, Malmo, Ljungbyhed, and Lund) it is also the most international and research intensive University found in Sweden. The leadership of Lund was impressive with their full efforts ensuring that the partnerships, research and students are all focused on generating a direct impact on society both in Sweden and globally (moving science to business as they say…).

Two areas of particular interest that are driving convergence and bringing together multiple groups of leaders from the University, the private sector, and government are Medicon Village and the Humanities Lab located within Lund University.

Medicon Village is a life science destination for the western side of Sweden. Much like the history of RTP, Medicon Village has its roots in moving a place that was experiencing significant economic challenges and reinventing itself to create a new brighter future for its citizens. The efforts are focused on health and well-being which is inclusive of life sciences, food research, diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, biotech and agriculture technology. Ideally located between the University, the European Spallation Source (ESS), and the Max IV Laboratory, Medicon is able to leverage partnerships that bring value to all of its members and generate new collaborations that convene multiple sectors around shared initiatives. Created as a non-profit foundation in 2010, it was the result of taking an unfortunate turn of events (the closing of the AstraZeneca facility), which resulted in the loss of 892 jobs and the vacancy of 114,000 square meters (1.2 million square feet). The university leadership and regional government worked closely with AstraZeneca to develop a plan that would ultimately create Medicon Village. When combined with ESS, Max IV and Ideon Science Park, Lund is developing as one of the largest Areas of Innovation (or Innovation District) in Europe.  Today, Medicon Village occupies 80,000 square meters (861,000 square feet) with 1,400 employees based in four different areas: Lund University, Lund Health System, ESS and the incubator space, which is home to 100 companies (32 of these are direct spinouts from the university and have the majority of the employees).

The Lund University Humanities Lab is an interdisciplinary research and training facility that brings together teachers, students and researchers from across the institution and private sectors to engage around the convergence of the humanities and technology. Performing research targeting on issues such as communications, culture, thought processing and collaboration as well as the social sciences, medicine, biology and design. What does all this mean when applied to real life science and discovery? Here are a few examples I picked up along the way that you can see in the video above.

  1. The Eye Tracking Lab is simple but very useful in understanding how we interact with digital media on the screen. Researchers at the lab have worked to understand the impact of advertising images, video, and text. This provides insights into how we interpret marketing and communications messaging as well as how we respond to various types of information throughout a digital platform.
  2. The Sound Studio dedicated to music, animation and video makes it possible to study how the quality of voice and instruments impact our learning process …. Or as the example provided during my tour, the studio was used to study how a choir communicates during a performance with each other and the conductor. Through sight, hand gestures and tone the choir acts as one body in a performance.
  3. The Virtual Reality Lab has been used to create archaeological and historical settings all in 3-D. Viking battle reenactment! By examining artifacts through CT scanning (such as bones from past battles) and studying where they were distributed in an area, scientists are able to reenact and better understand how these battles occurred. These new digital environments are also being used by museums and learning labs allowing visitors to fully experience history and science.

The work being done by Lund University and Medicon Village is truly inspiring. The work that they do is focused on societal impact as well as the convergence of art, science, technology and the humanities. Each discipline brings unique perspectives and resources to solve problems and make new discoveries. From the institutions leadership to the physical facilities they operate, all are thoughtfully engaged in the exploration and application of new technologies and ideas. I look forward to returning to Lund soon!