‘What we learned in Luleå’

On October 10th and 11th, 15 SI NFGL members and 15 alumni had the chance to visit Luleå in Sweden's far north, visiting the Luleå University of Technology, The Node Pole, and even Facebook. Didn't get the chance to go? Here's what happened!

'What we learned in Luleå'

Didn’t make it on the study visit to Luleå this month? No worries, NFGL members Ahmed Abbas and Liudmila Vedernikova share their reflections so you can live vicariously.


What was the best part of the visit? why? what made it so good?

Ahmed: For me, the whole program was actually wonderful. However, the study visits on the second day were my favorite part because we got the chance to meet the CEOs of some very interesting companies based in Luleå who told us how their companies are helping change the world using ICT and Technology, why did they choose Luleå to start their companies, and how is it helping them achieving their goals.

We also got to learn all about the huge opportunities and amazing support that various business organizations provide to those wishing to start a company in Luleå.

Mila: The visit to Luleå Science Park was the best part. I've learned many new things and really got inspired. The presentations by business representatives were very interesting.

I was very curious about the Mobilaris technologies like SMS-alarm systems for warning people about emergencies on big territories, and communication system in mining industry for those working underground. BehavioSec presented their innovative security system against online and digital fraud. I never knew that the way we touch the screen of smartphone, the way we type on a keyboard, use a mouse are unique. It is called 'keystroke dynamics'. The system has great potential especially for banks because nowadays so many people use internet banking.

Describe one or two things that surprised you during the visit. What did you learn that you didn't expect to beforehand?

Ahmed: In the lecture about Enabling ICT, we were surprised by some of the statistics on how Swedish people using the internet and technology. I, personally, was also surprised by how big the Facebook data center is, the statistics from The Node Pole, and the success of BehavioSec all over the world. I was also surprised to meet many LTU Alumni during those two days, and hearing lots of lovely stories about their memories of the days they were students here in Luleå.

Mila: I was very surprised that currently we create as much data in two days as humans created in the period since the Stone Age until 2003!

How did the visit inspire you to think differently about your time in Sweden?

Ahmed: I used to think about my time here in Sweden mostly from an academic point of view, I thought about what research I want to do, what subjects I want to study and how many papers I might right. However, after visiting those companies and centers I am now thinking about an entirely different approach on how to spend my time here in Sweden. While I won’t ignore my academics, I will try to keep in touch with the industry too, maybe do some internships and join a startup after finishing my studies.

Mila: I never knew that Sweden has such a potential in ICT and that a kind of a next 'Silicon Valley' is being developed there.

What exactly did you visit and what did you do in each place?

Ahmed: The program was two days long; on the first day we were at the Career Center at Luleå University of Technology for the entire day. We attended a lecture on enabling ICT, then we participated in a workshop about ICT and Sustainable Development Goals.

In the second day, we visited Luleå Science Park where we attended three sessions/seminars about Mobilaris, BehavioSec, The Nord Pole, and The Arctic Business Incubator. Earlier in the day, we visited Facebook data center, but we couldn’t go inside so we just took some photos near the data center fence!

After that, we visited SICS and learned about how the center is building small data centers to help researchers all over Sweden (and eventually the world) do their research without worrying much about infrastructure. We heard about some of the cool projects they are doing in relation to data centers, and some of their future plans.

Who was the best speaker and why? what did that person say that was so memorable?

Ahmed: All speakers were great and presented really useful sessions/workshops, but two particular speakers were my favorite. The first one was Mikael Nyström, CEO of Mobilaris, his session was very interesting because of the critical nature of the systems developed by Mobilaris.

I have always wondered how governments communicate with people during a crisis? How the emergency number 112 works? How do they find my location without asking me, that fast, that accurate? And Mr. Mikael presentation answered all of those questions along with some real life demos.

The second was Neil Costigan, CEO of Behaviosec, his presentation was closely related to my studies, information security. I enjoyed hearing him talk about how they developed the behavioral security technology, and how they managed to integrate it into some of the most important systems around the world (e.g. Banks).

Mila: Johan Sjökvist, Development Director fromThe Node Pole was the best in my opinion, because his speech was very alive and informative. He made me really want to discover the whole Nordbotten region.

what did that person say that was so memorable? He made very good presentation, I remember his “new Maslow pyramide” and facts about how much data we produce.

Ahmed, you study in Luleå — how did this visit change your understanding of the city/community?

Ahmed: When I first came to Luleå, I knew about the IT industry operating around the city, but I had no idea how big it was. The study visits allowed me to see the whole picture of IT industry, how well is it going, and how the future looks for those companies. I got to know how much friendly is Luleå for startups and entrepreneurs willing to share their brilliant ideas with the rest of the world.

When I started studying at Luleå University of Technology I thought it was a traditional university that has some relations to industries, but I was surprised to know that many of the IT companies either actually started from the university, or rely on the university for competent employees to hire.

In the case of SICS, the center influenced the research goals in the university and opened new doors for new researchers to tackle a very important topic, Data Centers research. I got to see how all organizations in Luleå work together to push the research and industry wheel forward, and that changed my entire perspective for my studies along with my future plans.

Mila, what did you think about Luleå — was it colder there than other parts of the country?

Mila: Luleå is very calm and beautiful. It was colder than Uppsala where I live, actually I felt cold all the time.

Any other thoughts/impressions you'd like to share?

Ahmed: Luleå is a small city, and it tends to be very cold during this time of the year, but it is also an amazing place to live, study and work. The close relation between the university, the companies, data centers and other industries make it a very good choice for those wishing to pursue their studies in such connected environments.

We were very happy to have the SI current scholars and Alumni with us in those two days, I learned a lot from them, made new friends and many professional connections. We are very thankful to the SI NFGL, and to Markus and Linnéa for the outstanding efforts in organizing and moderating the event and the study visits. I hope the SI current students and Alumni found something in Luleå that would make them come back again in the future.

Mila: The event made it possible to meet very nice people with different backgrounds. It was so interesting to see and discuss the same problems from different perspectives. I was very happy to meet new friends during those days in Lulea.

All pictures: Ahmed Abbas