About externally employed doctoral students (LivsID)

Last changed: 05 February 2024
Three hands with forks pick up chicken wings from a plate. Photo.

As of the autumn of 2018, SLU has, on behalf of the government, established a program for ten industrial doctoral students in the food area (LivsID). The investment is made within the framework of the national food strategy.

The food sector in Sweden faces a number of challenges. It is important to produce sustainably and climate-smart, reduce the use of fossil raw materials and reduce food waste. Foods must be healthy and wholesome. The use of antibiotics and herbicides must be minimized while production must not reduce biodiversity. At the same time, Sweden's food industry must be competitive in the international market.

To solve these challenges, highly qualified people are needed who have an excellent ability to solve problems, who can familiarize themselves with different business & community processes, and who have a wide network.

Industrial doctoral students with their extensive academic education and with roots in the corporate world, have great potential to become the leaders of the future in the food industry.

A part of the National food strategy

The new industrial doctoral students in the LivsID program focus on projects and issues initiated by companies, organizations, authorities and other stakeholders in the food area.

The doctoral students are employed by their employer and engage in regular work assignments of 20 percent during their doctoral studies at SLU. The doctoral studies are conducted for five years at 80 percent starting in the autumn of 2018.

30 applications were received in the autumn of 2017 and of these, 22 were invited for further presentation at a seminar on 6/12. Decisions on which 15 went ahead in the selection process were made on 15 December.

Of the 15 proposals, ten have been judged to best meet the criteria. The assessment was made by SLU's collaboration group in the food area with faculty representatives from the NJ, VH and LTV faculties. The same criteria were used as in previous assessments, but this time with a greater focus on the individual study plan.


The annual meeting for LivsID 2020

The annual meeting for LivsID took place via Zoom. It included 20-minute presentations by the doctoral students or supervisors, in which the progresses made in the individual projects were presented. Below is a brief description of a selection of the presentations given:

Annie Larsson (Lantmännen) summarized her work on the development of analytical methods to characterize lignin in feed as a measure of fiber digestibility.

Will English (Nordic Beet Research Foundation) presented his modelling approaches with which he can correlate various storage parameters of sugar beet with the loss of biomass. Storage and mechanical damage to the beet are important parameters. In particular, he presented how the aeration of sugar beets during storage affects next to others the purity and weight of the beets on a laboratory scale.

Ludvig Lundqvist (Biogaia) examines the relationship between production parameters and the probiotic activity of lactic acid bacteria. He presented results on how tolerance of lactic acid bacteria to low pH is affected by the air and nitrogen gas flow during cultivation.

Erling Strandberg (project leader) presented the work of PhD student Christian Bengtsson (Viking genetics): Tinder for cows - better matchmaking. In this project, they are investigating how DNA markers can be used to select suitable cows for breeding. One purpose of this, for example, is to avoid inbreeding.

Laura Pirkola (Fazer) and Solja Pietiäinen (Lantmännen) gave us an overview of the effect of fiber on the intestinal microbiota and health. Louise Selga (Lantmännen) explained the effects of different flour characteristics on the final quality of the bread. Karin Hallin Saeden, supervisor of PhD student Thomas Eliasson (Norrmejerier), explained the importance of microorganisms from feeding the cows to the final quality of the cheese, and John Bonestroo (DeLaval) demonstrated how data mining can help prevent mastitis in dairy cows.

The presentations showed that LivsID is making significant progress despite the pandemic. We hope, of course, that we will have the opportunity to meet in person in 2021

Selection process, agreements, finances and other formalities

Before the projects began, the details of finances, rights, organization, supervision, work environment responsibility, etc. were regulated in an agreement between the companies and SLU. The doctoral student's employer receives a grant from SLU of SEK 500,000 per year for three years as compensation for the doctoral student's participation in SLU's research on the doctoral studies conducted to the intended extent and according to plan.

Costs for main supervisors at SLU and up to SEK 20,000 per year for overheads in the form of trials and laboratory work, etc., premises at SLU and office base services are covered by SLU.

Costs for travel, allowances, conference fees, course fees, etc. are covered by the employer within a framework that will be determined in the agreement.

Immaterial rights

The management of the intellectual property rights for the research results, e.g. copyright and patent law, must follow current rules in the labor market and within universities. Any deviating details and clarifications will be regulated in the agreement.

Supervision and organization

SLU provides the main supervisor and at least one assistant supervisor. The employer must provide at least one party supervisor (who can be an assistant supervisor if he or she has a doctoral degree). Both parties provide for the dissertation project necessary equipment, infrastructure, etc. Scope, etc. specified in the agreement.

The doctoral student's interests both in the regular workplace and in the doctoral program are discussed and taken care of by a group consisting of the doctoral student, the main supervisor, the head of the department where the doctoral student is admitted to the doctoral program, the immediate manager of the regular workplace and the director of studies for LivsID (convener). Where relevant, the doctoral students will be linked to the national graduate school LiFT.

Collaboration between research at SLU and the employer shall be developed as far as possible during the doctoral education period. The industrial doctoral student shall not have the main responsibility for developing the dialogue, but it shall lie with someone else at the employer together with SLU's director of studies for LivsID. The activities are aimed at other employees of the employer.