28 June 2024

In memoriam of Patrik Carlsson  

It was with deep sadness and heavy hearts we received the news of the loss of our much-esteemed colleague and friend Patrik Carlsson, who passed away yesterday after a period of illness.   

Patrik, lately serving as Co-Director of Big Science Sweden and Director for Special Projects and Centres at Chalmers Industriteknik, was not only an invaluable member of the Big Science Sweden team but a visionary who, over the last decades, made a huge contribution to accelerating the development of Big Science technology in Sweden.   

Patrik received his PhD in physics at Chalmers University of Technology in 1999. His choice of focus, neutron scattering, set the course of his career.  

In 2000, Patrik started as a research engineer at Array. He worked with innovation and research to develop a new colour printing technology, gaining experience in international networking as he collaborated with customers in Asia.  

After two years, he moved on to the European Spallation Source, ESS. This was to become the project of a lifetime. In his own words, he “started when ESS was a dark horse proposal by scientists to build a spallation source in Lund.” When he left in 2015, ESS had 13 member countries, more than 40 involved laboratories, and close to 100 per cent of the EUR 1.8 billion funding needed already secured. All critical components were prototyped, licences were in place, and construction was ongoing. 

During his thirteen years at ESS, Patrik held several director positions, responsible for among other things accelerator, control system, and engineering resources. He helped build and lead large parts of the organisation, the collaborations for the accelerator and target, and the decision-making on the design and prototyping. He participated in the negotiations and agreements on technical in-kind contributions with European laboratories and the setup of multidisciplinary reviews and advisory committees, and led the teams through these reviews. Patrik also held a vital role in the campaign to win against competing proposals from Germany, the UK, Spain, and Hungary, as well as in advocacy for societal and government bodies in Sweden, Denmark, and Europe.

In 2015, Patrik became Director of the Graphene Centre at Chalmers, where he set up and started R&D and innovation in graphene. The centre involved more than 40 senior researchers and several major, medium-sized, and small companies.  

In 2017, he became Director of Special Projects at Chalmers Industriteknik, CIT. Among other things, he led CIT’s engagement in the effort to set up Big Science Sweden and the GATE Centre of Excellence for Big Data. 

When Big Science Sweden was founded in 2018, much on his initiative, Patrik became Co-Director, a position he held until his passing. He helped set up and lead the organisation, creating the structure and methodology completely from scratch. Patrik served as the Swedish Industry Liaison Officer for the SKA Observatory, ESO and ITER/Fusion4Energy. He spearheaded Big Science Sweden’s efforts to ensure Swedish industry return from the SKA Observatory and guided several Swedish companies towards successful contracts. He broke new ground in establishing a contact network for Swedish industry partners, universities and institutes at ITER and Fusion4Energy. Patrik continuously worked in close cooperation with companies and researchers all over Sweden, as well as with the Big Science facilities.

Patrik firmly believed that Swedish companies and universities must increase their participation in developing and producing services, components, and systems within Big Science Technology to advance research development and create innovative business environments in the future.  

He worked hard towards the realisation of his conviction. His unique expertise in large-scale research facilities and projects, their management, and associated technologies, as well as broad experience in international and industrial-academic collaborations, combined with his in-depth knowledge of neutron scattering methods and materials science made him especially suited to this task. 

Patrik’s drive and strategic vision will forever frame Big Science Sweden as an organisation. His presence and charisma made him well liked by those who met him. Colleagues and external collaborators held him in great esteem. His personality had a contagious sense of constructiveness. Leading by example, he taught us to have a positive outlook, no matter what challenges we were facing. He was generous with his positive feedback and made sure to always recognise each team member’s contributions to the overall goals.

It was a privilege to work alongside Patrik. He will be greatly missed.

Our thoughts and sincerest condolences go out to Patrik’s family and friends.