The Curiosity that saves the world!

“Where are the French students? Some of my industry partners wants to meet them.” My colleague Joydeep, professor in nanotech, scanned the big sunny room where students from 35 countries milled around, getting ready for the thematic roundtable sessions. He had come with two of his senior researchers, a student and collaboration partners, to pick the brains of these 58 extremely smart young people. And, of course, to share his own expertise and knowledge, just like other senior KTH staff in key research areas under the large water umbrella.

At the end of the day, knowledge is not worth much unless it is shared. Moreover, knowledge or a bright idea is not enough. You also have to be able to put it into practice. This was the key purpose of our event on August 28 – “Water your idea” – that the WaterCentre@KTH organized in collaboration with SIWI, Stockholm International Water Institute.

“We don’t want to do something small. We want to save the world.” – Kristian Katholm Nielsen, Denmark

Every year, SIWI awards the Stockholm Junior Water Prize to imaginative young minds from all over the world, encouraging their continued interest in water and sustainability issues.  This year we together invited the Prize finalists from 35 countries for an inspirational day aimed at helping them to become water entrepreneurs and make a difference. All these young scientists – between 15 and 20 years old – have already made a great first effort by winning their national contests with exciting water projects, spanning from innovative bio-tech water treatment using goat hair, to recirculating shower systems. This year’s winner, Macinley Butson from Australia developed a new type of sticker to measure UV exposure for the purpose of solar disinfection of water.

“Find your inner curiosity – and stick to it!” – Mattias Wiggberg, KTH, the first SWJP winner 

During their day here at campus, Gustav Notander at KTH Innovation came with a bunch of good advice and communication tools helping them to move on with their ideas. Mattias Wiggberg, researcher at KTH and also the very first SWJP winner offered a fantastic reflection on what winning the Prize back in 1995 meant to his career, and personally. The visitors also learnt about KTH in general from our vice President Stefan Östlund, about our water activities in particular from Kerstin Forsberg, and met with our KTH “ambassadors” to hear what it is like to study here. As Mikael Östling said in his farewell speech; we want them to come back as masters students or to pursue a PhD degree!

“Water is the one thing that connects all of us – we got to do something to solve it.” – Macinley Butson, Australia

Personally, what I will remember from this day was the energy, enthusiasm, and above all the atmosphere of curiosity that sat in that big sunny room on KTH campus, arising like a gas from the meeting of a younger and an older generation of water scientists. I think it really shows in this short video from the session.

That curiosity, I think, is what will save the world.

David Nilsson, Director of WaterCentre@KTH

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