SLU news

SLU awards for important and innovative research

Published: 09 October 2017

Non-toxic combating of large pine weevil, hampering pathogenic microorganisms and an environmentally friendly method for eradicating seed-borne pathogens. These three inventions have been named the most successful innovations originatingd from SLU’s research during the past 40 years.

One of the commended researchers is Göran Nordlander, Professor at the Department of Ecology. The research conducted by himself and his colleague Henrik Nordenhem resulted in Conniflex, a product that protects conifer plants from the feared large pine weevil. Without countermeasures, the weevil can kill up to 80 per cent of newly planted conifer plants.

'Obviously, I'm very honoured that our research is acknowledged in this way. But, mostly, I am very pleased and proud that it has contributed, to such a large extent, to the reduced use of toxins on forest plants. It has improved both the environment and the work environment for those who plant forests,' commented Göran Nordlander.

Another three researchers are being commended for their research at SLU: Kenneth Alness for the development of the Thermoseed technique – an environmentally friendly method of eradicating seed-borne pathogens, and Lars Axelsson and Sven Lindgren, whose research is the source of understanding probiotic bacteria and has propelled their company BioGaia to success.

Important to acknowledge research

How useful is the research and how innovative is it? Those were the primary assessment criteria when selecting the winners. All three innovations have contributed to products and/or services with a considerable effect on society, and which have also helped create successful businesses.

'We think that 40 years of important research needs to be acknowledged. That is why SLU held a contest to highlight the most successful innovations that have originated from the university. All five winners have shown how important SLU's research is for a sustainable society,' remarked Erik Fahlbeck, Pro Vice-Chancellor at SLU and chair of the assessment jury.

The five award-winners were presented with diplomas during Saturday's doctoral award ceremony at SLU in Ultuna.


About the winners and the inventions

Göran Nordlander and Henrik Nordenhem from the Department of Ecology – their research and innovation created Conniflex.

Conniflex protects conifer plants from gnawing large pine weevils by covering the trunk with elastic, fine sand. Conniflex is used on around 70 million plants annually in Sweden, and the company is now expanding abroad.

Protection from large pine weevil is crucial for forestry, because otherwise, about 80 per cent of newly-planted plants risk dying from weevil destruction. Ever since it was introduced in 2010, the invention has radically decreased the use of insecticides, benefitting the environment, employees and the economy.

Sven Lindgren and Lars Axelsson, whose research is the source of understanding probiotic bacteria and has propelled their company BioGaia to success.

BioGaia is a Swedish health care company that was originally developed from Lindgren's and Axelsson's research at SLU on the probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri.

The award winners were behind the early research on how Lactobacillus reuteri could hamper pathogenic microorganisms. Their progress was crucial for researcher Stefan Roos – he began the pre-clinical research that verified and further developed the bacteria that BioGaia was built on. Based on their research, the company has continued to develop products for new market areas by combining strains of bacteria and delivery systems.

Kenneth Alness for developing the Thermoseed technique.

Thermoseed is an effective and environmentally friendly method for eradicating seed-borne pathogens with hot air and water – no chemicals are added. The method reduces the need for chemical seed treatment and removes all contaminations while the seed's ability to germinate is maintained and its water content is of keeping quality. The product has been available on the global market since 2005. Today, it is used on wheat, hops, oats, rye, triticale, rice and onions.

An innovation that effectively and preventively reduces the need for production and management of chemicals, as well as any cleaning to remove chemicals from environments where they do not need to be present, thereby palpably reducing the risk of spreading chemicals. Given the product's substantial effect during its relatively short existence, it is a good example of preventative environmental conservation with a global potential of reducing the use of agricultural chemicals.



Questions about the award

Erik Fahlbeck, Pro Vice-Chancellor SLU
018-67 19 71, 073-087 35 44,