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Effective forms of collaboration have never been more important

Lina Moritz is a new program director at CLOSER, the national collaborative platform for sustainable freight transport solutions located at Lindholmen Science Park's offices in Gothenburg and Stockholm. The financing of a new five-year period for CLOSER is also finalised. "We are entering a new exciting phase", says Lina Moritz in this interview, where we learn a little more about the new program director and how she approaches her assignment."

Lina Moritz, who are you? Give us a brief background.
I have been responsible for our work within urban mobility and, for instance, have been in charge of the DenCity project and the government commission geofencing. "I completed my degree in industrial economics at Chalmers and have worked at CLOSER for almost 5 years. Over the past year, I have launched our thematic area of digitalised and connected logistics, among other things."

Where is CLOSER at now?
"Seven years after its founding, CLOSER is now an established and key player within the Swedish innovation system in connection with transport and logistics. It is a neutral platform where various participants can meet and exchange experience and knowledge - and where new initiatives are launched. "

"We have an important and unique role as a neutral party - and the need for this type of role is only increasing.  An important aspect is that the development takes place within a context, which means that we must change our standpoint so that it isn't just individual projects that advance. CLOSER has been established as a platform where we can develop ideas and then help take them to the next level towards advancement and implementation, because we have the contacts and the capacity to mobilise together with the right partners. This involves promotion of testing and demonstration activities where ideas are developed into bigger solutions. A concrete example of this is the electrification of freight transport in cities where we tested hybrid lorries in the SendSmart project a few years ago, which was developed within the scope of DenCity, where fully electric lorries will now be tested."

"We have spearheaded major initiatives within the government's collaborative program called Travel and Transport of the Future. In 2018, a national freight transport strategy was developed and focus has increased on freight transport in recent years.  This means that our innovation work and our role have become all the more important."

How do you intend to approach your new cohesive tasks?
"CLOSER is entering a new, exciting phase. Our main financiers – Vinnova, the Swedish Transport Administration and Region Västra Götaland – have renewed their faith in us for another five years. That makes it very exciting to take over the leadership of the program. We must continue to be an effective organisation where we work based on our partners' wishes; manage the time that the partners contribute and find forms of collaboration in order to create a workshop."

What are the biggest challenges?
"CLOSER has grown considerably and that possess new challenges. At the start of 2012, there were four people in the office. Today we are 10 full-time employees."

"We will tackle the work and establish the work forms for the three areas that were initiated last years: digitalised and connected logistics, multimodal solutions and energy supply of the logistics system." 

"We will develop an internationalisation strategy. CLOSER is a resource that is in demand in EU projects where we help various participants work together to find the right contacts and we work to help Swedish projects gear up internationally."

"We will develop routines to contribute to the development of SMEs and startups. We get a lot of enquiries and we want to find methods, tools and meeting places for smaller participants to enter the freight transport system in what is still a very traditional sector.'"

What new initiatives are in the works? Where is CLOSER headed?
"We have several projects in the works that we are just getting started with. A bigger project that we are starting now is the FOI programme of the Swedish Defence Research Agency geofencing. We will serve as a node for development of save and sustainable cities."

"In the expansive multimodal EU project, Combine, we will conduct a requirement analysis during the spring to gain an understanding of the requirements of the participants and which matters must be addressed. Railway matters are an established area for us. We will work more within maritime shipping and freight terminal questions. Digitalised logistics is also a field where there is a great deal of potential.  We already have a few exciting projects under way and new initiatives in the pipeline."

What role does CLOSER play in logistics in Sweden and the innovation system?
"The amount of freight transport is increasing. CLOSER coordinates strategic questions and helps Swedish participants by serving as a neutral party and engine to create a sustainable freight transport system. It is fun to play a spider-in-the-web role promoting the development - you really get to have a free hand in the process. Freedom from fossil fuels is an obvious part of this, but it's so much more: business models, policies, smarter ways of collaborating. Our goal is to contribute to the development of new freight transport solutions that will supply a sustainable society. The needs are only increasing - and now it is really exciting to work within CLOSER."