Big Science brings together industry and academia

5 oktober 2021

The particle accelerator at Cern

One of the experiments, ATLAS, during the build-up phase at the particle accelerator at CERN.

Uppsala University’s Academic-Industry Meeting Day (AIMday) has launched a raft of successful investments in Big Science. “The meeting between industry, academia and major research facilities always generates exciting collaborations,” says Fredrik Engelmark of Uppsala University.

Uppsala University plays a vital role in Sweden’s investment in Big Science, an umbrella term to describe large-scale international research facilities such as CERN, ESS, Max IV, ESO and ITER. Sweden cofinances 13 European Big Science centres.

Fredrik Engelmark, collaboration manager at
Uppsala University and business development and
project manager at Big Science Sweden.
Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

Big Science Sweden (BiSS) is the country’s official Industrial Liaison Office (ILO), working to create business opportunities and collaborations between the business community, academia and large-scale research institutes. Fredrik Engelmark is collaboration manager at Uppsala University’s Innovation Partnership Office and business development and project manager at Big Science Sweden, where he liaises with CERN, the world’s leading particle physics research facility.

“These massive facilities drive global technological development. Our work at Big Science Sweden is principally a matter of assessing the needs and challenges of the facilities and passing them on to both industry and academia.” he explains.

Major investment

Sweden invests billions of kronor each year in the 13 research facilities of which the country is a member.

“Naturally, we are looking for a return on Sweden’s investment. It’s all about generating business for Swedish industry, which can deliver cutting-edge technology to the facilities, but also know-how and exchanges of knowledge,” says Fredrik Engelmark.

Uppsala University has a solid foundation in Big Science, both as a supplier of technology to the various facilities and in utilising the large laboratory environments in various research projects.

AIMday breeds collaboration

For the past two years, BiSS has been arranging a workshop based on Uppsala University’s AIMday meeting concept, which is designed to bring together trade and industry with researchers and academics.

“The workshop lasts for two days, during which we address pre-agreed, specific issues and challenges confronting the major research facilities. Each issues is discussed for one hour by a group comprised of representatives from the business community, academia and Big Science,” says Fredrik Engelmark.

The concept has proved effective in creating new collaborations and projects.

Multi-million kronor projects

Among other things, the most recent AIMday resulted in a major collaborative project involving Uppsala University, Linnaeus University and a cluster of tech companies in Småland, southern Sweden. The project has been awarded a grant of SEK 19 million to develop environmentally friendly “cold” superconducting magnets, intended for use at CERN among other applications. Testing and development is underway at the FREIA Laboratory, part of Uppsala University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

“This type of technological development is a good example of how research and development at a Big Science facility can also benefit society, given that more efficient magnets will lead to more efficient radiotherapy for people,” says Engelmark.

Great interest in this year’s AIMday

This year will see another AIMday on the theme of Big Science. There is considerable interest and, as usual, the issues addressed will be related to the needs and challenges facing large-scale research facilities. AIMday Big Science will take place digitally on 13 October.

Facts: Big Science Sweden (BiSS)

Big Science Sweden is an open consortium working to create business opportunities and collaborations between the business community, academia and major international research facilities. The consortium is funded by Vinnova and the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth.