A UNIQUE UNDERTAKING ON RESEARCH FOR FOREST-BASED MATERIALS
Wallenberg Wood Science Center (WWSC) started in 2009 as an initiative by Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, which invested SEK 450 million in a 10-year extensive effort to develop the research in Sweden within the area of new materials from the forest. By the end of 2017, KAW decided to continue invest in WWSC for another 10 years (2019 – 2028), this time with universities and industry via Treesearch as co-financiers.
WWSC 2009 was started as a joint research center at KTH and Chalmers with the aim of building a strong program for materials research with a long-term focus to support the development of innovations that use the Swedish forest. To take full advantage of the knowledge and skills acquired during the first 10 years, WWSC was expanded with Linköping University in 2019.
Since it’s start, WWSC has evolved to become internationally recognized as one of the leading centers in the field. Around 40 doctoral students are currently active within the center and about 60 doctoral students have graduated from the graduate school, WWSC Academy (2021). More than 750 research articles have been published in international journals and have so far generated more than 14 000 citations (excluding self-citations).
The largest Swedish research center in the area
With funding from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation of SEK 450 million for the first ten years, this was the largest Swedish effort ever in this area. Since 2019, in addition to continued funding from KAW, WWSC has received support from the participating universities and industry via the Treesearch platform. The investment in WWSC has now been increased to SEK 72 million per year until 2022, with a possible extension until 2026.
WWSC - the starting point of Treesearch
The success of WWSC was the starting point for the creation of the research platform Treesearch, where the work on the development of the platform started with a seminar at KTH, set-up by WWSC in December 2014.
During the seminar, the industry need for competent personnel and new knowledge was discussed to meet the challenge of developing a future competitive Swedish forest industry. It was also discussed that in order to compete with other material raw-material streams, the research conducted should be at the highest scientific level and with access to advanced experimental tools. Not only aiming at pioneering discoveries but also to create attractiveness supporting the universities recruitment of students to educations related to the needs of the forest industry as well as to industry’s own recruitment.
The seminar resulted in a project connected to WWSC with the aim of creating a national environment for engaging academia and industry in a joint venture on research and development in the field of materials and speciality chemicals from forest raw materials. The project was led by KTH and Chalmers and was conducted together with BillerudKorsnäs, Holmen, SCA, Stora Enso, Sveaskog and Södra.
The result of the project was the creation of the collaboration platform Treesearch, where WWSC today is a core research activity that utilizes the platform and other research activities are invited to join and use the platform.