The program

”We have the resources to achieve great things.”

Ever since her childhood in the vast woodlands of Kalix, the forest has been an obvious choice for Elisabeth Nilsson. When she was asked to become a board member of Mistra Digital Forest, after a professional life in the business world, her answer was a given. Now she is looking backwards - and forwards - at the programme that has reached its halfway point.

Hello Elisabeth, what has fascinated you most about Mistra Digital Forest to date?
– I'm impressed by the breadth of the programme, both in terms of research and collaboration. We have the basic research, and are also developing a range of digital tools that can strengthen the forest industry's sustainable development and competitiveness.

– It is fascinating how well the development work involves both researchers and industry representatives throughout the whole forest value chain. Since both Mistra, and the business community in its various shapes, are investing time and money, a strong utilitarian approach is created. We have the resources to achieve great things, because the projects can run for many years and can receive solid funding from both Mistra, and the business community.

What would you like Mistra Digital Forest to achieve in the next four years?
– Above all, I'd like to see the research and development projects that have been under way during Phase 1 being put to use, and working stably in the real world. As well as continuing to conduct research and development, training programmes are incredibly important. Through them, we strengthen the forest industry's capacity to manage and further develop the results.

Instead of retiring, you have chosen to get involved on several boards. What is the appeal of being on the board of Mistra Digital Forest?
– Forest issues are important for Sweden, and they interest me on a personal level. I worked a lot with forestry issues when I was County Governor of Östergötland County. But the involvement was already there as a child. I grew up on a farm on the Gulf of Bothnia and my parents had both dairy cows and forest. Sometimes I can feel despair at the current harsh climate of debate, where some people suggest that Swedish forest owners are devastating forests. The vast majority put in an enormous amount of work to take care of their forest for future generations.

You have experience of other Swedish industries, including 25 years at SSAB. What distinguishes the forestry industry?
– The forest is different from the steel industry, for example, where a few large stakeholders are dominant. Sweden has more than 300 000 private owners of forests, of varying sizes. This is unique, and it means that innovations linked to digitalisation are emerging and being realised in many different areas.

Elisabeth Nilsson

Age: 69
Lives: Nyköping
Occupation: Professional board member, with professional and non-profit roles. Board member of Mistra Digital Forest's programme board, chair of the Sörmland Trail and the Vadstena Academy.
Career: Trained as a mining engineer. Has held several management positions at SSAB and been CEO of Jernkontoret. From 2010 to 2018 she was Governor of Östergötland County with Linköping Castle as her residence. "It was a privilege to live in Sweden's oldest secular building for a while, and to get to know an entire county".

Elisabeth Nilsson

Elisabeth Nilsson