Lund University School of Economics and Management (LUSEM), the Faculty of Engineering (LTH) and Sparbanken Skåne are founding a joint centre for sustainable enterprising at Lund University. Together, they are investing several million SEK in the centre, which will start welcoming new doctoral students across a variety of research collaborations this autumn. The focus is on the transition to a more sustainable society – while maintaining a viable economy – through collaboration and knowledge.
“There is a strong commitment and interest among companies to work on sustainable development, but also humility at the scale of what remains to be done. Now we have the opportunity to work together – the business community, the financial sector and academia,” says Susanne Arvidsson, Associate professor of Accounting and Finance at LUSEM and future director of Sparbanken Skåne’s centre for sustainable enterprising.
The aim of the centre is to support the development of sustainable business and contribute to the long-term well-being of society. Through pioneering international research and education, the centre will help Swedish companies to transition successfully, while the same time increasing their competitiveness. All with close cooperation between academia and private and public stakeholders.
“We believe that knowledge and collaboration is the way to solve society’s vulnerability. We need to know more about how financial sector players can factor sustainability into their decisions, and we hope that Sparbanken Skåne’s centre for sustainable enterprising will enable us to invite many different co-creators to join us in building a sustainable Sweden,” says Mats Benner, Professor of Research Policy and Dean of LUSEM.
Solutions through collaboration
In a recent opinion piece in the newspaper Sydsvenskan, Mats Benner argues, together with Annika Olsson, Dean of LTH, and Rasmus Roos, CEO of Sparbanken Skåne, that transition needs to be compatible with a robust economy in order to succeed.
“Sustainable transition often means that companies must change their business models and be more circular in their use of materials. They have to be able to orient themselves in a landscape of major technological shifts and societal challenges, while continuously minimising risks and maximising opportunities,” says Annika Olsson, Professor of Packaging Logistics and Dean of LTH.
The centre’s approach is broad, interdisciplinary and solutions oriented. The organisation will be run in close cooperation with the business community, through research, seminars and continuing education for lifelong learning amongst other activities.
“For companies, their transition to zero emissions and increased sustainability depends on solutions that span research subjects and faculties. This must be done in collaboration with the surrounding society, infrastructures, norms and policies – that is why this centre is so important,” says Lars J Nilsson, Professor of Environmental and Energy Systems Studies at LTH, who will be one of the researchers at the centre.
New Master’s programme with a sustainability focus
Within the framework of Sparbanken Skåne’s centre for sustainable enterprising, a new Master’s programme in sustainable entrepreneurship will be developed. The hope is to further equip students with knowledge of sustainable business and problem-solving, where processes, systems and materials are optimised, all based on requirements of the business world.
“We are convinced that the future will make new demands on how business and universities work together. Sustainable models and ways of working need to be disseminated across companies and sectors, in which case universities can act as a neutral meeting place for different interests. Banks and the financial sector play a central role in the everyday economic life of both people and businesses. How these institutions assess risks and investments will play an important role in this transition,” says Rasmus Roos, CEO of Sparbanken Skåne.