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Most innovative at Lund University receive awards

All the winners on stage
Photo: Kennet Ruona

Six of the most innovative ideas and projects currently within Lund University were spotlighted at the Future Innovations Award, held on November 7th. The contributors shared a total of SEK 500,000 when Lund University's and Sparbanken Skåne's Future Innovations Award was given out. The winning ideas included an energy storage system that makes use of upcycled electric vehicles batteries and a new method for assessing stroke risk.

The Future Innovations Award has been given to three student projects and three research projects at Lund University since 2017 to recognise groundbreaking ideas that have the potential to change our world for the better. This year, six winners shared a prize of SEK 500,000. The prize money was sponsored by Sparbanken Skåne, through its ownership foundation Sparbanksstiftelsen Finn.

The winning idea in the student category came from Paula Runsten and Felix Kruse. They are working on an energy storage system that, using recycled batteries from electric cars, can support the transition to renewable energy and reduce electricity costs. The solution could give batteries a second, productive life by integrating them into the power grid with modular systems that can be adapted to capacity and power, enabling the expansion of renewable energy.

"We are passionate about the for the possibilities of batteries and making an impact on climate change," said Paula Runsten and Felix Kruse.

Two other project ideas in the student category received special commendations. One was a hybrid power plant powered by concentrated solar power, and the other was a monetised clothing recycling system.

Innovative ideas from employees at Lund University were also recognised through the award. The Future Innovations Award was given to Magnus Cinthio, Tobias Erlöv, and Isabel Gonçalves for their project Medqus. The team is developing a new type of diagnostic method to identify patients at high risk for stroke and heart attack. The method uses ultrasound to analyse the tissue content of constrictions in the neck vessels, which can lead to better clinical decisions. Globally, heart attacks and strokes are the most common cause of disease and death. Improving risk assessment can save lives.

Special commendations were awarded to employees at Lund University for a project aimed at developing beneficial bacterial strains for sustainable cultivation and packaging of leafy green vegetables, as well as a brain-inspired method to improve efficiency in data transmission.

The purpose of the award is to recognise and reward innovative ideas, and a way to utilse knowledge and research at Lund University.

“Innovators lay the foundation for future prosperity. As a savings bank, we work for the development of the region, and supporting ideas, researchers, and entrepreneurs is important to us. With the innovation prize, we want to highlight the initiatives that can make a big difference tomorrow,” said Björn Ovander, bank manager for Sparbanken Skåne in Lund.

“Innovations are crucial for solving today's challenges. The award highlights the incredible innovative power that exists at Lund University and how much benefit it can create for people, society, and the environment,” said Niclas Nilsson, Director of Innovation at Lund University.

Employee category

Winners receive award on stage
Winners in the employee category receive award (Photo: Kennet Ruona)

Future Innovations Award – SEK 150,000
Magnus Cinthio, Tobias Erlöv and Isabel Goncalves
Imaging the risk of stroke

Heart attacks and strokes are globally the leading causes of illness and death. Today, patients at high risk for these conditions are examined using ultrasound to measure the contraction in the blood vessels of the neck. One disadvantage of current ultrasound techniques is the inability to distinguish the composition of tissue. The team has developed a method that, for the first time, uses ultrasound to assess tissue composition — the primary determinant of rupture risk. This method can improve clinical assessment and has the potential to reduce suffering and save lives.

Special commendation – SEK 75 000
Sustainable cultivation and active packaging of leafy green vegetables using beneficial bacterial strains to increase harvest, extend shelf-life and reduce the risk of food poisoning.
Elisabeth Uhlig and Åsa Håkansson

The team's solution, based on a decade of research, uses four beneficial bacterial strains for the sustainable cultivation and packaging of leafy green vegetables. These strains not only enhance harvest yield and extend shelf-life but also may reduce the risk of food poisoning. Two strains also have a proven probiotic effect, adding to the plants ability to absorb nutrients and adding health benefits for customers. Their application to both domestic and imported produce can reduce waste and improve safety, creating a substantial societal impact.

Special commendation - Most promising new idea 2023 – SEK 75 000
New brain-inspired method to improve data transmission efficiency and cut energy use
Kaan Kesgin and Henrik Jörntell

Internet traffic accounts for approximately 1.4% of energy use globally. The team has created a superior method that optimises time-frequency decomposition algorithms for non-stationary data, resulting in practical advantages in neural data processing. By improving event identification (signal fingerprinting), temporal positioning, and algorithm speed, the solution has the potential to increase transmission rates or efficiency, and thereby reducing energy use.  Though the team is exploring its use in telecommunications, this method can also be applied in fields such as medical diagnostics, speech enhancement, music classification, seismology, radar systems and material fault diagnosis.

Student category

Winners on stage with award and flowers
Winners in the student category receive award (Photo: Kennet Ruona)

Future Innovations Award – SEK 100 000
‘Energy storage systems using upcycled electric vehicle batteries’  
Paula Runsten and Felix Kruse

The team is creating energy storage systems using repurposed electric vehicle batteries to support the shift to renewable energy and cut electricity costs. The solution could give batteries a second, productive life by integrating them into the electrical grid, with modular systems that can be adjusted for capacity and power. This not only maximises economic sustainability but also promotes environmental sustainability as end-of-life batteries can be easily replaced to maximise the economic and environmental sustainability of the system.

Special commendation – SEK 50 000
Combined Solar Power and Thermal Storage’ 
Martin Arvidsson and Hampus Hammarbäck

The innovation is a hybrid power plant using concentrated solar power and integrated thermal energy storage. It collects solar energy and stores it as heat, using economical materials like sand. Electricity is produced on-demand through a Stirling engine that has superior efficiency compared to traditional solar panels, and excess heat can be repurposed. The scalable design suits a variety of applications, from self-sufficient cottages to district heating networks. It also facilitates local microgrids in developing regions where electricity infrastructure expansion is costly.

Special commendation - Most promising new idea – SEK 50 000
Reducing textile waste by providing an automated system to monetise used clothes
Grzegorz Mróz, Marta Mossakowska and Emil Henriksson

According to the European Commission, EU consumers discard 5.8 million tonnes of textiles every year, with only 25% of these post-consumer textiles being recycled. The proposed solution minimises textile waste by allowing individuals to profit from their used clothes with a set per kilo price. This can be achieved through automated processes involving image processing, AI, and X-ray scanning. The system can identify textiles, evaluate their quality, and assign value by accessing web databases. Users receive an instant valuation after placing their clothes into the machine and, upon approval, the funds are instantly transferred to their account. This offers an alternative method to dispose of clothes, reducing textile waste.

About the award:

Together with Sparbanken Skåne, Lund University awards a total of 500,000 SEK to Future Innovations. The award is intended to promote and encourage the utilization of knowledge at the university. The competition is open to all employees and students at Lund University, and ideas and projects from all disciplines are welcome, as long as they have not taken in revenue or been realised.

Ideas that have not yet been realised are evaluated based on their potential for future innovation. The jury looks for innovation, societal value, relevance, how the idea can contribute to global sustainability goals, scalability, and also considers the team's drive and passion. In the two categories of Employee and Student, a first prize and two special commendations are awarded in each category.

The jury consists of:

  • Erik Renström, Vice-Chancellor, Lund University
  • Martina Kvist Reimer, CEO of Red Glead Discovery
  • Karin Ebbinghaus, CEO of Elonroad
  • Anna Branten, Founder, Institute for Transition