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In Lund tradition meets innovation, distances are short and research is among the world's best

Interview with Philip Sandberg, Mayor of Lund in Sweden
  • December 03, 2019 09:30
  • Author Monika Dimitrova
Medium philipsandberg photograhper annika persson
Source: Annika Persson

Philip Sandberg was born on 4 October 1981 in Växjö. He has a background in civil society where he worked with vulnerable children and young people, but also on issues related to entrepreneurship, the labor market and EU project development. Since October 2018 he is Mayor and Chairman of the Municipal Board in Lund Municipality.

Festive atmosphere in Lund. Photo by Lund Municipality 

Mayor Sandberg, Lund is a charming mix between ancient history and modern innovative approaches. Please describe the city in a few sentences.

Lund is one of the oldest cities in Scandinavia with a university established in 1666 and is ranked among the world´s top 100 universities.

Lund is located in the heart of the Danish-Swedish metropolitan region Greater Copenhagen, one of Europe´s expansive regions. About 4,3 million people live here. The international Kastrup airport and Malmö airport are only half an hour away from Lund´s city centre. From here you can reach Malmö in 10 minutes and central Copenhagen in 45 minutes.

Lund is the place where tradition and innovation meet, where distances are short, and research is among the world´s best.

The City of Lund is home to about 125 000 people, of whom 20 percent are born abroad. The average citizen is a 23-year-old woman and the most common profession is a civil engineer. With its 40 000 students and thousands of researchers from all over the world the university shapes the city and its character.

You have been Mayor of Lund since 2018. What is your greatest achievement or completed project?

We have introduced the opportunity for children born in 2011 and 2012 that wish to play a musical instrument to choose between different providers and are planning to expand this opportunity to new age groups year by year. This has given hundreds of children in Lund access to music and culture, something I am very proud of.

The municipality implements many socially oriented initiatives. Please, tell us more about the most important ones.

Lund leads and participates in various research-based programs to achieve sustainable growth and equal living conditions for citizens. Some examples are integration and gender equality projects, but also collaboration projects such as Finsam, where the city, the Swedish Social Insurance Agency, the Swedish Public Employment Service and the Public Health Authority work together to prevent or shorten sick leave and unemployment.

Share other good practices from your municipality.  How do you finance them?

COOL DH is a consortium consisting of the utilities and municipalities of the two cities of Lund and Høje-Taastrup in Denmark. The objective of COOL DH is to support cities in planning and deploying new, efficient district heating and cooling systems, and extend and refurbish existing ones to higher standards. The project is funded by Horizon 2020 – the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme implementing the Innovation Union.

Under the European Union project CITyFiED (RepliCable and InnovaTive Future Efficient Districts and cities), part of the 1970's Linero area in Lund was renovated and made energy efficient with the aim of satisfying the energy efficiency requirements for newly built houses, while keeping the rent increase to a minimum. CITyFiED was a collaboration between the City of Lund, Lund´s public housing company AB (LKF), Kraftringen and the IVL Swedish Environmental Institute.

Lund University attracts numerous young people every year. How do you manage to keep them in the city after  graduation?

It is a big challenge. The City of Lund and Lund University actively work together in order to get the students to integrate into the society during their studies. A student co-working program was started in the spring of 2018 that enables the municipality to hire students, and give them opportunity to become an intern etc. By doing this we hope the students will feel a connection to and get a positive image of the city, both those who move away as ”ambassadors” but also those who stay for their future professional lives.

Lund is home to world-leading research activities and top international companies. What are you doing to attract investors and strategic projects?

Lund has a long tradition of research-intensive activities. The cluster of innovation companies that exist in Lund attracts new businesses. 35 years ago, Ideon Science Park was built right next to Lund University in order to connect science and research with innovators and entrepreneurs. Ideon was Sweden´s first research village and today it houses about 900 companies and 10 000 employees primarily within four focus areas: Smart Cities, Future Transportation, Healthtech and life sciences. Companies like Bosch, Sony, Ericsson, Volvo, Huawei, ARM and Schneider Electric have R&D departments or offices at Ideon to benefit from the mix of competences when developing the future.

Close by, Medicon Village was established in 2012. The mission of Medicon Village is to provide a unique environment for life science by integrating research, innovation and industry under one roof, thereby helping to improve people’s health and lives.

Science Village Scandinavia in northeastern Lund, between Max IV and ESS, is currently developing the land for construction with the intention for it to be used by businesses, research and educational facilities in the field of materials research and innovation.

How would you evaluate the necessity of a portal that brings together the best practices of European municipalities and aims to keep the citizens informed about the latest developments in local policies, such as TheMayor.eu? How can our platform be useful to your administration?

It is a very positive and much needed initiative that furthers the possibilities of creating broader networks and a deeper knowledge and understanding of local developments across Europe.

What will be the main goals you have set for the near future to make Lund a better place to live?

We are in the process of adopting sharper, more effective areas of focus and objectives for the City of Lund. These goals will become the basis from which the city’s different political committees and employees work and will thus have a direct impact on our citizens’ lives. These new improved objectives increase our abilities to keep developing Lund for the future.

Find out more about Lund here