Vice-Chancellor Maria Knutson Wedel. Photo: Sara Arons

Dynamic drive and competence contribute to a sustainable society

For Vice-Chancellor Maria Knutson Wedel, it is important to offer students world-class research-based teaching. Equally important is the university's ability to utilise research results that can advance society. An area in which the Vice-Chancellor wants to see increased cooperation with important partners such as SLU Holding and Green Innovation Park.

It has been just over a year since Maria Knutson Wedel was installed as the new Vice-Chancellor at SLU. Right from the start, she stated that the university, which has facilities at several locations in Sweden, is an organisation with the will, drive and expertise to contribute to a sustainable society.

“SLU has a broad view on research and a well-functioning and clear infrastructure,” says Maria Knutson Wedel, Vice-Chancellor at SLU. "People with tremendous commitment are working here in a highly developed culture of quality. We are a part of society and when it comes to utilising research, our focus is on research-related learning for our students that they can apply in society and translate into products and services at their workplaces.”

But it is not just through students that research from SLU benefits society.

Responsibility to utilize research

"As an university, we have a responsibility for furthering research results that can carry society forward,” says Maria. “It is our role and duty to facilitate research results reaching society. Our institution is taxpayer-funded so it is very much a reasonable responsibility and something that I think is expected of us. Our researchers should think freely. We must spread the word when something is relevant, both in terms of research results in basic research and research results in applied research. Our role is to make it simple and easy to further knowledge."

Several researchers have the drive and interest to test their ideas, others are not equally interested. Either way, it is important to offer good support, means Maria.

Good support system makes it easier to take ideas further

“Yes, it is important that there is a supportive system regardless of whether a researcher wants to go further with an idea or if they want to initiate collaboration with interested entrepreneurs. SLU Holding has an important role here, both as an idea catcher and as a support function. Our researchers are different with different interests and different orientations. Taking advantage of the experience and knowledge that makes it easier to provide research results to society, regardless of the path chosen, is meaningful", says Maria.

Maria feels that it is essential that researchers at the university are familiar with SLU Holding and Green Innovation Park and know which resources they offer.

"When an idea comes up, it's a big plus that the researchers know which resources and support are available, who they can contact to find out more about how work can be carried out, how to interact or gain more knowledge and move forward. I want more of what SLU Holding and Green Innovation Park offer”, says Vice-Chancellor Maria Knutson Wedel

Desire to add entrepreneurial skills

To encourage researchers to take ideas further, Maria has a dream that she hopes to one day realise – to start an “entrepreneurial school” for researchers and students.

"I would like to help in providing opportunities for both researchers and students to immerse themselves or gain an overview of what I call entrepreneurial skills through an innovative ecosystem where students and researchers can immerse themselves. It can be about learning to identify what you need to do as an entrepreneur, how to create resources, which tools you need to give your ideas wings. And not least, to take the plunge and commit even though you do not know if it will succeed or not", says Maria.

Clearly, there are many challenges when it comes to contributing to a sustainable society. It is also clear that SLU has both unique expertise and the will to contribute.

Unique expertise provides future choices

"Yes, it is important that we can contribute with knowledge and ideas regarding the challenges we face, says Vice-Chancellor Maria Knutson Wedel. SLU has a holistic approach and unique expertise in many research areas. We already serve as a referral body and have the ability to provide answers based on scientific grounds. SLU also conducts research in several areas where there are currently conflicting objectives. This makes us equipped to contribute knowledge regardless of the path one later chooses. With a good support system, we are able to further research that can take society forward. This is important", concludes Vice-Chancellor Maria Knutson Wedel.

Read more about Maria Knutson Wedels in the Vice-Chancellor’s blog.


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