SLU news

Industrial PhD students develop sustainable food

Published: 09 January 2023
Five people sit on blue sofas and discuss. Photo.

During fall 2018, an industrial PhD program started at SLU with a focus on sustainable food production with eleven doctoral projects and nine companies. Now, the first student has defended his thesis and during two days at the end of 2022, PhD students, supervisors and industrial supervisors gathered to evaluate the program.

The research projects span many different types of food, both animal production, dairy, root vegetables and bacteria are included among the projects. The industrial doctoral students are employed by a company and engage in applied food research. Through LivsID's activities, they interact with each other and create a network between academia and business.

– The food sector in Sweden faces many challenges to produce sustainably and climate-smart. With this investment in industrial PhD students, we wanted to create a direct contact between academia and companies to solve important problems, says Volkmar Passoth, who is the coordinator of the initiative.

– There were so many exciting projects presented at the beginning and we really wanted to be part of this, says Ilka Klaas, supervisor at DeLaval.

More research results out into society

John Bonestroo has been an industrial doctoral student at DeLaval and defended his thesis this summer. He has worked with sensors to detect mastitis in cows. The goal has been to give the cow the right treatment and at the same time minimize the need for antibiotics and the risk of antibiotic resistance.

– As an industrial PhD student, you can increase the effect your research has on society and make changes to a product that directly affects society, says John.

Producing sustainably and climate-smart food

PhD students, supervisors and industrial supervisors gathered to evaluate the LivsId program. Click to see the film!

Academia and industry in collaboration

Ludwig Ermann Lundberg is an industrial PhD student at BioGaia and works on probiotics that have the potential to prevent and treat diseases in humans and animals.  

– Working with patents has become a very exciting and fun part of my project. Several of my projects have become very useful for Biogaia, says Ludwig.

– The collaboration between SLU and BioGaia has worked very well. For BioGaia, it has put the collaboration on the map, it has become clear what a collaboration like this can bring. Industrial PhD students are an efficient way to work, says Stefan Roos, who supervises Ludwig at SLU.

We are stronger together

– It is interesting to work with companies because they are often at the forefront when it comes to identifying the most important research questions, says Nils Fall, SLU researcher who supervised John Bonestroo.

– In the academy, we have good prerequisites for doing basic research, but we cannot produce products. However, that can be done in a company and a company also have the economic possibilities to do clinical trials. Together we can do things that we cannot do individually, says Stefan Roos.

– This program has been very successful, even though networking suffered with the pandemic. But we really hope that LivsID will continue in some form in the future! It is a strong desire, both from us at SLU and from the companies that participated in the program, concludes Volkmar.


The LivsID program started in autumn 2018. The program was initiated with support of the government as part of the National food strategy. In total, the program involves eleven. PhD projects in Alnarp, Umeå and Uppsala. The companies involved are BioGaia, DeLaval, Fazer, Kronfågel, Lantmännen Nordic Beet Research, Norrmejerier, VikingGenetics and Äppelriket.

Read more about LivsID here.