The Mistra Urban Futures’ organisation 2014  

Mistra Urban Futures has been active in three, four years and a lot of things have happened during those years. The organisation and has grown steadily during that time, periodically at a very high pace. This period can be described as a start-up phase, with focus on creating administrative routines, systems and structures, a focus that has required a lot of time as well as resources.

During the autumn the Centre management has developed a somewhat different way of working in terms of how projects are handled, the way current and potential partners are integrated in the network etc. Some changes will be implemented over time, others are already adjusted. In 2013 the Centre took some major steps when it comes to the administration. Reporting, economic systems and financial follow-up are now in place. With that, during the autumn the management decided to reduce the administrative function in Gothenburg with two positions. Anna Wehlander, Centre assistant, and Klas Andersson, project coordinator, has thus left Mistra Urban Futures. Klas has accepted a new position within Chalmers, while Anna has moved on to other challenges. 

Key people in new positions

Apart from the changes in the administration, there are a few other key persons that no longer are active in the Centre. Björn Malbert, Merritt Polk and Jaan-Henrik Kain were three important persons in the establishment of a centre for sustainable urban development. They wrote the application and were institutional in the important start-up phase of the Centre as well as part of the management team, all in parallel with conducting their research and permanent positions. The last few years Björn has been acting as a senior advisor to the Centre, Merritt and Jaan-Henrik were Directors for the joint international research within the UF Arena but also responsible for the trans disciplinary approach upon which the Centre is built (Merritt) and for ongoing European research projects (Jaan-Henrik). From January 1st Björn is working half time and he will dedicate his time to teaching and tutoring at Chalmers department of Architecture. However, he will continue to be close to the Centre. In November 2013, Merritt accepted the position as Head of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg. Consequently she left her leading role within Mistra Urban Futures but will continue with her research connected to the Centre. On his own initiative, Jaan-Henrik has returned to his fulltime position as Associate Professor at the department of Architecture at Chalmers, but he will complete the EU-projects according to plan.

The evaluation and future plans

2014 will be yet another challenging year for the Centre. A new strategy for 2016-2019 will be developed. Besides that a compilation of what has been achieved this far will be produced. The Progress Report together with the new Strategic Plan will be two important parts of the mid-term evaluation that Mistra will conduct during spring 2015.

To be successful in these important tasks, both time and manpower is needed. The secretariat in Gothenburg is an administrative support for the organisation in Sweden and coordinates the international activities. The following persons are working at the secretariat:

Jessica Algehed, acting Director. Ann-Louise Hohlfält, Director for the Gothenburg activities and for establishing Mistra Urban Futures as a national centre.  Cecilia Örnroth, Head of Administration. Stig Egnell, International coordinator. Ulrica Gustafsson, Event Manager. Jenny Sjödin, Communications Officer and Susanne Björklund, Head of Communications.

The international activities continue to play an important role in the Centre and its future development. The international platforms are still managed by: Zarina Patel and Gordon Pirie, Cape Town, South Africa, Beth Petty in Manchester, United Kingdom and Stephen Agong in Kisumu, Kenya. The operations in Shanghai, China, is still in a start-up phase, with a focus on establishing joint research projects rather that setting up a local platform.

Lars Reuterswärd, Director at Mistra Urban Futures since May 2011, will retire on March 31st 2014. However, in consultation with Chalmers, Lars decided to step down from leading the daily operations at the Centre from December 31st 2013. Consequently, from January 1st to June 30th 2014 Jessica Algehed is acting Director. Chalmers, as the host of the Centre, is working on finding a permanent successor to Lars.