TU Graz and Mondi set up strategic partnership

The Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) and Mondi Group have set up a strategic partnership oriented to research and education. At the Faculty of Technical Chemistry, Chemical and Process Engineering and Biotechnology at TU Graz, Mondi will endow two professorships, one in Pulping and Paper Technology and one in Food Contact Materials. In addition to research, a further focus of the strategic partnership will be future-oriented teaching and the training of young talent in business and science.

R&D is a central part of operations at Mondi and involves working closely with customers to develop sustainable, future-oriented packaging and paper solutions. “As one of the world’s leading packaging and paper producers, we also wish to be a leader in research and development. We see an increasing need for new know-how and increased competencies in pulping and paper technology as well as food contact materials,” said Christian Skilich, Chief Operations Officer Paper Cluster, Packaging Paper, in reference to Mondi Group’s commitment. The research program is guided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and set to make substantial contributions to achieving SDGs 8, 9 and 12. These include, for example, sustainable and intelligent packaging solutions designed to halve food loss by 2030. Mondi will in addition provide support for two laboratory technicians and two scientific assistants in those fields at TU Graz.

Key technologies in the paper industry

As part of the strategic partnership, TU Graz und Mondi will bundle their scientific and technological competencies in the research areas of pulping and paper technology and food contact materials. TU Graz Rector Harald Kainz made the following statement as he handed over the partnership deed to Mondi and unveiled a partnership plaque at TU Graz today: “We are delighted that our existing close relationship with Mondi is now being strengthened even further, as it will help enhance our competence and international visibility as an important location in research and education in paper technology. Two well-known scientists in their respective fields, Erich Leitner and Ulrich Hirn, will take up these professorships.”

Ulrich Hirn will hold the Endowed Professorship in Pulping and Paper Technology at the Institute of Paper, Pulp and Fibre Technology. He is also head of the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Fibre Swelling and Paper Performance. Erich Leitner will hold the Professorship in Food Contact Materials at the Institute of Analytical Chemistry and Food Chemistry at TU Graz. The two endowed professorships will start on 1 August; their research will focus on R&D for technologies which improve the mechanical, printing and haptic properties of papers and the development of new solutions for food packaging respectively.

“With TU Graz we have a partner that is engaged in education and research at the very highest level,” added Leo Arpa, Head of R&D Paper at the Mondi Group. To augment the collaboration, the team from the accredited Mondi Group Food Safety Labs will move into new laboratories at TU Graz later this year. Arpa commented: “Our research will be built on the specialist know-how and capabilities of both partners. We will jointly develop technologies that will help us continue to play a leading role in sustainable, economical packaging and paper solutions.”

TU Graz and Mondi have been conducting various projects together for many years. Those projects include the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Surface Chemical and Physical Fundamentals Of Paper Strength (active from 2007 to 2014), the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Fibre Swelling and Paper Performance (active since 2015) and the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Mass Transport through Paper (active since 2018). “Over the course of many years of cooperation, both parties have built up an excellent mutual understanding and profound trust,” said Christian Skilich in reference to the successful partnership with TU Graz.

sbr / 07/16/2019

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