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Project Study Week

Värmland, Sweden

International Study Project Sweden

As a part of the International Business Management & Sustainability (IBMS) master program at Ravensburg Weingarten University (RWU), 13 current and alumni RWU master students participated in the international study week in Värmland, Sweden from May 21-27, 2023. The group was led by IBMS Dean, Prof. Dr. Barbara Niersbach and visiting lecturer from British Columbia, Canada, Dr. Ian Picketts.

In fitting with the focus of the IBMS program, participants met and interacted with businesses committed to and practicing sustainability. The group visited large industrial operations, medium-sized producers of innovative and traditional products, and a small startup currently in the R&D phase. Participants were able to see active production lines making paper, steel, product packaging, hygienic packaging materials, and food products.

To back up the practical impressions with theoretical insights, the group met Dr. Maria Sandberg at Karlstad University (KU). Dr. Sandberg is developing uses for sludge waste from paper production including natural fertilizers that return nutrients to forests and help seedlings grow in nurseries. In laboratories at the university, scientists use bacteria to grow a new class of completely biodegradable plastics, called polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs). The study group was able to interact with professors from KU, and present on sustainability topics from their own businesses. Master students from KU also participated in the presentations.

At the Karlstad Innovation Park, participants of the study week were introduced to small companies in various stages of business development that are supported by the business innovation and growth incubator, Sting Bioeconomy. The Karlstad Innovation Park attracts entrepreneurs and businesses from all over Sweden and became home to over 60 undertakings. One of these undertakings is Blue Ocean Closures (BOC), which is backed by the manufacturing companies ALPLA and Glatfelter. BOC interacted with the group throughout the week and demonstrated how their paper bottle caps and lids will be able to be used as a drop-in replacement for plastic ones. Beyond the study week, current students will continue to interact with BOC in graded projects assigned by the professors and in cooperation with the research needs of the company.

Alongside BOC, the study group was accompanied by representatives from Paper Province, a business cluster promoting sustainable use of paper products from the region of Värmland, Sweden. Värmland is Sweden's heart of the forest and timber industry. Over 70% of the region is covered in forest, and there are over 20,000 private landowners. Participants were able to visit Värner Lake, the largest body of freshwater in the EU, and spend time in Karlstad the capital of Värmland, as well as in nature nearby the city.

The IBMS professors and students thank everyone who made this unique study week possible with all its activities and learnings. We experienced generosity throughout the week and we look forward to further strengthening our partnerships in the future.

Olga Galgoczi-Valore, Philip Minich, Georg Nagra