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Millions to business research school for research on sustainable cities


The University of Gävle has together with Dalarna University and Mälardalen University been awarded 25.9 SEK million by the Knowledge Foundation to establish the business research school “Future-Proof Cities” focused on sustainable urban development.

Gavleån outlet at Gävle Strand, one afternoon in December.

Gavleån outlet at Gävle Strand, one afternoon in December.

In 2050, almost 70 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in cities, and Sweden, too, has a growing population and strong urbanization. This situation poses new demands on urban development: cities must be built in ecologically, economically and socially sustainable manners.

The business research school “Future-Proof Cities” is the manifestation of a unique venture in which three higher education institutions pool their professional knowledge about sustainable urban development with the goal to develop our cities into climate-resilient, living, healthy and safe places.

“At the University of Gävle, we conduct cutting-edge research on sustainable urban development and the research school will be of great importance in the creation and dissemination of new knowledge in collaborations with business sectors,” says Stephan Barthel, research director at University of Gävle.

Mid-sized cities a priority

What is unique with this research school is that it builds on a societal dialogue in which the academic community collaborates with business sectors. This means that those involved in social planning will be able to implements solutions for a sustainable urban development directly.

“We will prioritise urban development in mid-sized cities like Gävle, Eskilstuna and Borlänge. Urbanization is very strong here as well, but research as such has tended to focus on big cities,” Stephan Barthel points out.

Ylva Fältholm, vice-chancellor at the University of Gävle, would like to see a change: cities in the future must develop without harming the environment.

“For me, it is a great reward that we will now be able to provide new knowledge and inspiration in building the city of the future,” Ylva Fältholm says.

With the efforts of the business community, the corporate research school comprises just over SEK 50 million.

The business research school “Future-Proof Cities”

“Future-Proof Cities” is a joint venture in research on sustainable urban development. The research will be conducted in close collaboration with the business sector in the region Gävleborg and together with Dalarna University and Mälardalen University.

Through 12 doctoral student projects, sustainable urban development in the municipalities will be strengthened in these regions. The centre for this collaboration will be the doctoral students who will be employed within the business sector, but the research supervisors will be provided by the higher education institutions in question.

“A research school gives us the opportunity to develop and strengthen not only the University’s third-cycle courses and study programmes, but also the relationship between academia, social actors and the business sector,” Ylva Fältholm concludes.


Stephan Barthel, reader in geospatial information science and director of the Urban Studio, University of Gävle.
Phone: 076-360 57 05
E-mail: stephan.barthel@hig.se

Patrik Thollander, professor in energy systems and projekt manager
Phone: 070- 388 15 79
E-mail: patrik.thollander@hig.se

Text: Douglas Öhrbom
Photo: Marie Hägg

Published by: Douglas Öhrbom Page responsible: Anders Munck Updated: 2019-12-18
Högskolan i Gävle
Box 801 76 GÄVLE
026-64 85 00 (växel)