- Written by Anna Strom
forest biotechnology and feedstock research, which 'wood development' branch is led by Bio4Energy scientists, has been given top marks by international evaluators.
The Berzelii Centre for Forest Biotechnology at the Umeå Plant Science Centre (UPSC), shared by Umeå University (UmU) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), has been ranked "one of the top forest biotechnology research establishments in the world”, according to the UPSC homepage, in an evaluation carried out for the Swedish Government Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA). Among other strong points, the evaluators put the centre’s success down to its “exceptional leadership”.
“It is all about the fact that the UPSC consists of many relatively small, independent and actively cooperating groups. This has worked very well. [The sponsors VINNOVA and the Swedish Research Council, together with the two universities and forestry industry] have got a big bang for their bucks”, B4E Feedstock platform member Johannes Hanson said.
The Berzelii Centre's funding totals about SEK200 million (€23.8 million) for the period 2007-2016, or roughly SEK20 million per year, according to Sundberg, an SLU professor scooped up in 2012 by pulp and paper giant Stora Enso where he works to develop its Forest Biotechnology branch on an 80 per cent regime.
“Apart from being important for the whole of the structure, [the UPSC Berzelii Centre] finances some projects. For instance we have been able to set up a platform for association genetics in spruce. In one B4E project we work with Innventia to set up a spruce property database. This is critical to the association genetics' project”, Sundberg said with reference to that Sweden-based research institute and B4E founding partner.
These days, Sundberg for his part is busy overseeing and developing experimental plantations of fast-growing eucalyptus trees in China and South America, on behalf of Stora Enso. “I have got into the work now. It is exciting”, Sundberg said.