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Published

19 November 2012

Mistra Innovation in full swing

The six subprojects in Mistra Innovation are now well under way. Clean Motion, one of the small businesses receiving support, will develop a vehicle body with minimal environmental impact. A new call for funding applications in the programme is due to be issued soon.

Clean Motion, a company based in Lerum near Gothenburg, in southwest Sweden, is developing a three-wheeled electric vehicle for urban use. Ten demo vehicles are now on the road in various Swedish municipalities. For the next generation of vehicles, the work will involve developing the bodywork in partnership with others, including researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

‘The big challenge for us is to reduce the work hours and material costs in the bodywork, while making sure it’s light,’ says Göran Folkesson, CEO of Clean Motion.

To minimise energy use in the course of driving, keeping vehicle weight down is important. The company has therefore chosen to make the body out of plastic reinforced with glass fibre. This material is used mainly in the aviation and shipbuilding industries. Adapting the material for vehicle manufacture calls for partly new production methods, Folkesson says.

Focus on the vehicle body’s whole lifecycle

Another challenge of the project is to make the bodywork recyclable. Consideration of the whole lifecycle is a consistent feature of the project, according to Folkesson. For example, a particular body design may afford good characteristics for driving the electric vehicle but it may nonetheless be hard to recycle.

‘We’re trying to find a body design that results in the lowest possible environmental load overall, during production, use and recycling,’ says Göran Folkesson.

The project at Clean Motion is part of the Mistra Innovation initiative, which is structured somewhat differently from Mistra’s other research programmes. Support focuses on small companies that, in cooperation with academic partners, will develop commercialisable products.

Full speed ahead in other projects too

Of the 43 applications submitted in response to an initial call in Mistra Innovation last autumn, six projects were selected and have shared a total of SEK 20 million. All these projects are now under way, states Lars Frenning, Mistra Innovation’s Programme Director.

‘All the contracts are in place and the six projects are moving along at a good speed,’ Frenning says. He is in continuous contact with all those involved and has also managed to visit the companies in person.

In mid-November, all the participants in Mistra Innovation are getting together for a day to discuss results. Similar meetings will be held annually, Frenning says — ‘and there’s a lot to be learnt from one another’s projects.’

For small and medium-sized businesses seeking to develop ecofriendly products, there will be a new chance to take part in Mistra Innovation. In January next year another call will be issued, and in summer 2013 decisions will be taken on which projects to support.

Text by Henrik Lundström, Vetenskapsjournalisterna

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