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New research school fosters collaboration with life science sector


ComBine, a new corporate research school, is set to launch at Biofilms – Research Center for Biointerfaces.

The school was recently granted 17 million SEK in funding from The Knowledge Foundation and will employ eight doctoral students from the business sector this autumn.

“We already cooperate extensively and closely with businesses and industry; ComBine is a way for us to strengthen these relationships,” says Therese Nordström, ComBine’s project manager and Director of Biofilms. 

Five companies have already shown an interest in collaborating with ComBine: Camurus, CR Competence, Genovis, Obducat and PEAS Institute. The PhD students will continue part-time studies in parallel with their work, and will graduate in 2024.

“For us, this school is an opportunity to expand knowledge about bacterial communities — also known as biofilms — and surfaces, as well as a chance take part in an environment that we have a strong interest in and can contribute to. Knowledge is crucial for development and what we will be able to offer in future,” says Anna Stenstam, CEO of CR Competence.

These companies are not the only ones that will benefit from this collaboration.

“For Biofilms, the school means that our academics are given the opportunity to better understand the research needs of the industry, which in turn results in applied and socially engaged studies,” says Nordström.

The students at the school will specialise in one of three fields. The first is smart surface materials. This research can for instance be used to produce sensors that utilise the body’s own enzymes, a prominent area of study at Biofilms. The second is oral biofilms on surfaces. Researchers at the centre have unique competencies when it comes to the cultivation of complex biofilms that consist of several bacterial strains, which is of particular interest to businesses. Finally, some students will be working on biological barriers and pharmaceutical design, a field which can contribute to increased understanding of pharmaceutical products and allows for the development of more user-friendly and sustainable products.

The PhD students will be part of ComBine’s everyday work environment and, in this way, will be connected to the centre as well as the University’s activities as a whole.

“Collaboration between academia and industry broadens perspectives, which is something we can all benefit from,” says Nordström.

Last updated by Maya Acharya