We are not stronger alone – we solve challenges through collaboration across boundaries

Academia and industry need to collaborate and complement each other’s expertise, not least if we are to have a chance of achieving the Agenda 2030 goals, writes LTH Dean Annika Olsson.

– Publicerad den 24 februari 2021

Together – to benefit the world. LTH wants to collaborate with more companies and organisations on the goals in Agenda 2030, writes Annika Olsson. Photo: Charlotte Carlberg Bärg

Society is changing at an increasing rate through major movements or processes such as globalisation, urbanisation and digitalisation, to name a few. Alongside these societal changes come enormous challenges such as climate change, migration, flooding, water shortages, overstretched energy systems and pandemics.

That is why it feels like an exceptional privilege to lead a faculty of engineering like LTH, which is educating the next generation of problem solvers and conducting research capable of helping to solve society’s major challenges.

However, the challenges are so major and complex that we need to work across many boundaries to address them – disciplinary boundaries, organisational boundaries, national boundaries ... And this is exactly what LTH’s vision is about: together, we explore and create – to benefit the world.

It is crystal clear that sustainable development and the global goals are high on the LTH agenda, and I feel proud that our researchers, teaching staff, students and employees are all involved in contributing to a better world every day.

Last week, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with the LTH industry council, in which we discussed how LTH can become even better at collaborating, both in our study programmes and in our research. The basis is there, the atmosphere in the discussions is open and we respect each other’s different driving forces.

In order to succeed, we need to understand the different perspectives of each organisation. With trust, a large dose of understanding and the courage to challenge each other, we will have good conditions for success in our collaboration. It is particularly important that academia should succeed in collaborating fruitfully with business and industry and with public agents, as societal change accelerates.

At the same time, some people perhaps wonder whether collaboration with external agents really is so wise for a university, where research is supposed to be free. But the fact that we collaborate does not mean allowing ourselves to be controlled – academia has the rights to its research findings and of course we will not deviate from that principle.

After my years in both industry and academia, I have clearly seen that academia and industry are two units that can reinforce one another, by complementing each other and combining relevant expertise.

Research and companies often have knowledge and highly specialised expertise in separate fields, and their full utilisation generates sharper knowledge that reaches further in solving complex problems and challenges.

To achieve the goals of Agenda 2030, we need to be challenged together. At LTH, we conduct research and education across boundaries on a number of transitions, for example the transition to new energy systems, to biobased and renewable materials, to circular systems and much more.

I want to welcome companies and organisations – and LTH alumni – to contact me and LTH if you are interested in collaborating and joining us on our journey towards a better world, together towards the Agenda 2030 goals and to benefit the world.


Annika Olsson

Dean of LTH