Few LiU researchers have been seen as often as Per Frankelius in the Swedish and international media recently.
Within the past six months he has written in The Lancet to warn that world food production must become more efficient through investment in innovation. If this does not happen, he sees a risk for further civil unrest and war.
He has outlined in Läkartidningen (the journal of the Swedish Medical Association) the significance of innovation for improving the healthcare system, giving many concrete examples – everything from Per-Ingvar Brånemark’s titanium screws to the design of safe tractor cabins to reduce deaths from rollover accidents in agriculture to zero.
Opinion piece in the Swedish national daily Aftonbladet He has written an opinion piece in the Swedish national daily Aftonbladet in which he encourages Prime Minister Löfven to end cutbacks in the agricultural industry, if he is serious about sustainability. The Swedish agriculture industry is a world-leader in sustainability, ethical animal husbandry, and the preservation of biological diversity, but Per Frankelius points out in the article that the future will require investment in innovation, not cutbacks.
Agtech 2030Further, he has presented several innovations in Swedish agriculture at the world’s largest trade fair for agriculture, Agritechnica, in Hannover, and he is, together with colleague Charlotte Norrman and others, leading the major innovation initiative Agtech 2030. This ten-year initiative, financed by Vinnova, is to help bring Sweden to a world-Representatives from Agtech 2030 at Agritechnica 2019leading position in selected technology fields that will benefit the world’s agriculture.
“We must target our innovative drive at the fundamental causes of societal problems, not simply alleviating the symptoms”, says Per Frankelius.
New agricultural technology and innovative processes can increase food production, while the spread of knowledge around the world can reduce tension and unrest.
“The fundamental cause of many wars has been that people lack food and clean water”, he claims.
Harvesting at Abbotsnäs, Östergötland regionAnd food production must increase, not just in Sweden but throughout the world, in order to satisfy the Earth’s increasing population. And this gains increased importance against the background of overhanging climate change.
In the article in Läkartidningen, he argues that many of the innovations that we today take for granted in modern healthcare were initially received with suspicion, jealousy and reservation.
“What’s needed in the healthcare system today is not more money. Of course, the system must have good financial resources, but what will truly solve the challenges faced by the healthcare system are better innovative processes”, he claims.
Solving societal problems
And he should know what he’s talking about, after studying innovative processes and their results for many years. One example of many is the way in which the unassuming and poorly funded municipality Kolmården became host to a world-famous wildlife park, mainly as a result of the ambition and innovative drive of one person.
Per Frankelius is docent (associate professor) in business administration, skilled photographer, farmer, and enthusiastic fountain of ideas. He is quick to apply his skills in any field in which he sees that he can contribute. But he is modest about his activities:
“I’m not interested in promoting myself, but I see how we can solve several major societal problems by investing in innovation, and I feel that it’s my responsibility to spread that insight”, he says.
This is also the driving force that leads him to speak at many events, such as UAS Forum Sweden 2019, the Borgeby Fältdagar agricultural trade fair, Livsmedelsdagarna in Tylösand (a food fair and discussion forum), and the Almedalen political discussion week.
Translated by George Farrants