New Tissue Products and Technology Curriculum starts in Karlstad

Tissue U might be the nickname for the new university program that is getting started in Karlstad, Sweden, to carry out research and teaching on the subject of the tissue business.

Perini Journal

The global tissue business is getting a new resource which may come to play a very important role for the future. Six key companies – all of them global players in various parts of the tissue value chain – got together with Karlstad University in Karlstad, Sweden, in November for the kickoff of the new Tissue Products and Technology Curriculum.

The new program is being created under the leadership of Professor Holger Hollmark, one of the world’s foremost experts in the science of tissue making. The Tissue Products and Technology Curriculum (TPTC) will be developed in cooperation with the Paper Technology Department at Karlstad University headed by Professor Luciano Beghello.

The Tissue Products Technology Curriculum is thought to be a unique example of cooperation within the global tissue business, drawing upon leading resources from academia, the tissue industry and state-of-the-art suppliers. The program has several purposes, with one of the primary aims to build the total competence base and supply of human resources available to the tissue sector.

Thus, by focusing specifically on tissue in the Paper Technology curriculum at Karlstad University, it is expected that the university will able to attract more bright young people to the tissue business. In addition, thanks to the close cooperation with the industry, graduate students will be able to carry out very meaningful and applied projects of direct interest to the tissue business. Furthermore, the school will offer a short course open to employees within the pulp and paper related industry world-wide with an ambition to improve their tissue knowledge.

THE IDEA FOUND IMMEDIATE SUPPORT. Holger Hollmark, who has spent more than 35 years in the tissue science and technology area, says that the companies that were approached for support were immediately receptive to the opportunity being offered to them. At this point there are six ‘founding companies’ who have agreed to support the program with financial resources, technical resources and human resources for lectures at the university and guidance of graduate students.

The founding companies are: SCA, Metso Paper Karlstad, Fabio Perini SpA, SödraCell, Albany International and Eka Chemicals.

Hollmark explains some of the background: “After some preliminary discussions among a few companies, we decided we would approach one key player in each of several different segments of the tissue value chain. The idea found immediate acceptance – essentially every one of the six companies that we presented it to, immediately agreed to support it”.

In today’s climate of extremely tight budgets for just about everything, the fact that six key companies so quickly decided to support this effort to build what might be called a Tissue Center of Excellence says a lot. It is hard to judge whether or not this program is truly unique in the tissue world but it appears that it is the first to bring together such world class resources focused specifically on building competence in the tissue products area.

SCA PLAYS KEY ROLE. Per Eiritz, President of Metso Paper Karlstad, says Metso was immediately receptive to the initiative but that the most important of all is the support and enthusiasm of SCA. “As one of the world’s leading tissue companies, SCA was very important to this plan. With their strong backing they have clearly recognized the importance this curriculum can play in the future of the tissue business. I think we have all long seen the need and the value of developing both the knowledge base as well as the human resources in this sector. This is an excellent first step in the right direction”.

SCA, Europe’s largest tissue company and one of the fastest growing on a global basis, is clearly supportive of the program. Ulf Carlsson, Vice President of Corporate Research and Development at SCA, puts it this way: “To me the interesting thing is the way this program is incorporating all the different parts of the value chain. It could lead to some very interesting results to have all of these players putting their best efforts into both the University program as well as the research projects”.

Echoing Carlsson’s comments, Birgitta Sundblad, SCA Tissue’s Director of Applied Research, observes that “with much of our base in Sweden, we are keen to have something like this developing here. We see it as an important move in the development of a human resource base for the future. The tissue business needs more skilled people for the future and this should help us to attract and develop the best young minds to this business, which is really a fascinating part of the paper industry”.

SEARCHING FOR THE UNKNOWN. Ingmar Andersson, Vice President of Technology at Metso Paper Karlstad, points out that the combination could lead to some very interesting findings. “We see the strong synergies and potential that could be developed here, based on several leading companies supporting this work. By bringing all these together with graduate students and the relative academic freedom that a university setting allows, we may discover products and solutions that we have not even considered in the past”.

Another important resource that will be extremely valuable to the new program is the tissue pilot plant located at Metso’s Tissue Technology Center. This research center houses not one but two of the world’s most modern tissue pilot machines.

Martin Weickenmeier, President of Körber Paperlink, the parent company to Fabio Perini SpA says he sees it as a “new means of two-way communication with the customers and other suppliers, in a more academic setting, rather than the commercial sales environment. We think this will further improve our understanding of their challenges and help us to develop appropriate solutions”.

MARKET EMPHASIS RATHER THAN RAW MATERIAL. An important component of the curriculum is that it will include a substantial emphasis on the market and end uses rather than simply looking at the technology. The aim is to give the program and the students a mind set that reflect what is truly happening in the business rather than simply teaching about technology, science and raw materials.

Initially the TPTP has been set up with no competitors in the founding sponsors. This is by design to allow a more open communication in the initial stages as we are getting the program established. Says Hollmark: “We felt that by limiting the competition in the early stages we could move more rapidly in getting the program up and running. It is clear that the companies can be more open and cooperative if they are not worried about giving away secrets to competitors. This does not mean that it will always be limited to these companies. In fact we assume that it will attract more companies as we progress and that will mean more supporting member companies”.


- Attract new students to the tissue business;

- Run joint research projects;

- Educate professionals already in the tissue business through short courses to build specific competence in tissue;

- Encourage tighter cooperation among the tissue value chain;

- Build a global Tissue Center of Excellence.

THE TISSUE PRODUCTS AND TECHNOLOGY INITIATIVE should certainly be applauded as a great start to focus resources on common challenges and also attract new brainpower to the tissue sector. •

For more information about the Tissue Products and Technology Curriculum, kindly contact Holger Hollmark, Professor of Tissue Technology, Karlstad University. E-mail: holger.hollmark@kau.se.

Telephone: +46 8 545 867 57 or +46 705 66 06 11. •

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