Campus Skellefteå an educational hub in digitalisation
Skellefteå continues to be really hot. In recent years, it has become a Swedish and European symbol of growth, future-proof energy solutions and cutting-edge technology. One of the factors enabling this development is Campus Skellefteå.
The technology-rich start-ups of recent years have been a major contributor to Skellefteå's new position in Sweden. But just as important is the industry-leading research in, among other things, digitalisation technologies that takes place at Campus Skellefteå via Luleå University of Technology. This ranges from solutions for smart cities and cybersecurity, to test environments and methods for coping with rapid skills transformation.
- What happens here is also interesting from a national and international perspective. Campus Skellefteå has an important role both in the test environments that are created and in the work to manage a rapid and large-scale transformation of skills, says Ida Lindh, who is strategically responsible for Campus Skellefteå.
With the establishment of Northvolt's battery factory, Skellefteå is the first in a future Nordic battery belt, with the entire value chain in battery manufacturing, from raw materials and recycling to the conditions for large-scale, sustainable production. To make the most of the opportunities this development creates, but also to meet the challenges it poses, strategic collaborations with other actors are key. One example is the Arctic Centre of Energy, a strategic collaboration between Skellefteå, Northvolt, RISE and Luleå University of Technology with the aim of establishing an international centre of excellence focusing on research and learning in the field of sustainable energy transition.
Another platform for important collaboration at the European level is the ERASMUS+ project ALBATTS, where Skellefteå coordinates 20 partners in 11 countries with a focus on developing future education for the entire value chain around batteries and electromobility.
- This is a huge transformation, creating some 800,000 jobs in Europe and affecting even more. For many of these, new job roles need to be formulated and new training developed and implemented in EU Member States. Here, digitalisation plays an important role in enabling collaboration in Europe and finding better ways for both up-skilling and re-skilling in the sectors concerned," says Anders Norberg, project coordinator.
Technology-driven learning with XR as a level of education
Through the research institute RISE, Campus Skellefteå is part of Vigeo, a test and demonstration environment for digitalisation and digital infrastructure for lifelong learning. Within this framework, a number of collaborations are underway, including finding new, more flexible forms of education and lifelong learning in certain profile areas where digitisation and the link between the physical and the digital create new opportunities.
Another example in this context is the Vinnova project 'Technology-driven learning - XR as an educational tool', which has looked at the possibilities of XR in education together with Northvolt, RISE and the local games industry. One aspect of this work is now the construction of XR lab environments, where technology and knowledge from the regional games and film industry can be used as a catalyst to support other industries' challenges via projects and cluster collaborations, not least in the area of education and learning. A collaboration between Swedish and German universities and research institutes is taking shape for XR-based training of machine operators for battery-gigab factories such as Northvolt Ett.
Campus Skellefteå also has activities that act as a catalyst for digitalisation in other areas, such as in healthcare, where the Mindforce Game Lab uses digital games to address the problem that people tend not to take their medication as prescribed by their doctor, for example. They also collaborate with Umeå University, LTU and the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine. In addition to its operations in Skellefteå, the company also has staff based at AstraZeneca's BioVentureHub in Gothenburg.
Test environments created for 5G
Something that will have a crucial impact on the ongoing digitalisation is the development of the 5G network. Through CDT, the Centre for Distance Technology, the Wireless Innovation Arena project was launched in 2019 to give companies the opportunity to test and validate new products and services in a 5G environment. To this end, 5G test environments have been built in a number of locations in northern Sweden, including The Great Northern innovation house in Skellefteå.
- It is an open test bed where companies can come to test their products and services in a 5G environment, where we assist with the necessary equipment including SIM cards. The development of the 5G network will create entirely new opportunities in everything from healthcare and social care to telecommunications and industry, through the benefits of fast and stable connectivity," says Karl Andersson, professor of distributed computing at LTU/Campus Skellefteå and director of CDT.
Master's degree for new skills in IT security
At the same time, it's not just about driving the development of digitalisation, but also about preventing and managing the risks that digitalisation brings. In an increasingly digitalised world, there is a growing need for IT security skills, where businesses that rely heavily on IT need to protect themselves against potential attacks.
Markus Frank, IT strategist and head of the IT security programme at Boliden says:
- Increased digitalisation, autonomous machines and remote control create a larger attack surface, which places higher demands on our IT security both for preventive purposes and if something actually happens. There are examples of companies that have lost multi-million dollar businesses due to downtime caused by external attacks.
With this development in mind, it is positive that a Master's degree in information security is starting this autumn at Campus Skellefteå via Luleå University of Technology.
- From our perspective at Boliden, it is very interesting that this education will now be available in Skellefteå. We will have an increased need to recruit skilled personnel in IT security and with the education so close geographically, it will create a larger selection in the local area, says Markus Frank.