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This month Bio4Energry scientists and their associates from nine countries will meet at Luleå, UlrikaRova 2011Ulrika Rova will lead a meeting to design a Bio4Energy Graduate School. Photo by Bio4Energy.
Sweden, to lay down a framework for a B4E Graduate School for doctoral students.
Overarching themes of the courses to be offered, aims and curricula of the graduate school, as well as the number and extent of agreements with foreign academic institutions will be hammered out by the 30-strong group.

Graduate school project leaders at Luleå University of Technology, Sven Molin and Ulrika Rova, expressed optimism that the 1-2 February meeting would produce the stuff of an application to ERASMUS Mundus, a European Union funding scheme for foreign exchange and education on the post-secondary level, the deadline for which expires late April this year.

“The meeting will be a kick-off point for designing the application. We will come up with a rough draft for the structure of examinations, the consortium agreement,... research topics, the structure of the organisation and, of course, the complete framework agreement for the PhD education and the associate partners”, said Molin, a former senior lecturer in Electronics at LTU in northern Sweden.

A complete programme

A grant from ERASMUS Mundus could allow the B4E partners to offer PhD students and researchers from all over the world training in almost every aspect of conducting research across the various links of the biorefinery value chain.

The academic programme would have a part focus on innovation and rendering results useful to industry and, more broadly, to society. About 60 per cent of the PhD students' training would be covered by the grant monies from ERASMUS Mundus, Molin said. This could be topped up by co-funding from the B4E core partner universities at Umeå and Luleå. These include LTU, Umeå University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

However time is pressing, with the encompassing application yet to be written by the "consortium", that is, the three academic partners in B4E and their associates universitites in Australia, Belgium, Italy and Finland and with more likely to join the effort.  

“We think we will have covered a lot of ground” when it comes to planning the graduate school and funding application, Molin said of the outcome of the imminent meeting. This will see researchers and administrators from the three B4E partner universities and their associates gather in various constellations at LTU and by video links, with their minds set on producing results in time.

“We have support from top”, said Molin, with a nod to a 1 February dinner for the meeting participants given by the LTU vice chancellor Johan Sterte.

International experience & usefulness to industry

“Today’s PhD students need to (be able to show that they) have international experience. The EU wants cooperation to increase” between academic institutions across the globe, he added.

While only ten grants in total would be issued by ERASMUS Mundus this year to academic consortia offering top-of-the-line PhD training, associate LTU professor Ulrika Rova, for her part, still thought that B4E stood a fair chance of winning one of them.This was because B4E could offer education, and conduct research, on almost every aspect of the biorefinery value chain and, more generally, on energy systems.

“Bio4Energy is not only about technology development”, said Rova, but also about providing a context to today's "policy and societal agendas" and providing "assessment of the technology.

"We look at implementation in industrial networks. This has to do with evaluating the technology in an environmental and a techoeconomical perspective.

“All these aspects will be addressed by the new graduate school”, Rova said. "Rendering research results accessible and useful to industry and society will be a very important aspect. This corresponds to what Bio4Energy has promised to deliver".

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