Anne Tanner is interested in innovation processes, emerging industries and how people and firms are developing new things that change the world – preferably to a more sustainable place to live.
Love and curiosity brought Anne into the academia. Besides being a researcher, she is a mother of two young children, which gives her an often well-needed perspective on work.
- When you all of a sudden find yourself transforming the couch into a pirate ship and play pirates or super heroes after a long day of thinking and writing in the office. It put things into perspective.
Why did you become a researcher?
To be honest, I didn’t actually plan to become a researcher but I fell in love with an Australian jazz musician and when I got the opportunity to combine a PhD at the Technical University of Denmark with a research stay in Australia I couldn’t say no.
Little did I know that writing a PhD was such a huge effort. There were some very late nights when I tried to finish my PhD thesis where I had second thoughts about my spontaneous decision three years earlier. But doing a PhD is also a lot of fun. You meet people around the world at courses and conferences, you get to hang out with professors and get inspired to understand the world we live in and how it changes.
And in the end, I definitely didn’t regret going to Australia, because I actually ended up marrying the guy and we now live in Copenhagen together with our two kids.
What drives you to be a researcher?
I like to understand real-world problems. Perhaps this comes from my background at Roskilde University where we worked very problem-oriented. I always start new research projects by wondering about something or a discrepancy I have come around. For example, my PhD thesis was about where new industries emerge. It was initiated after working on some EU funded research projects discovering that almost every European region wanted to develop their own high-tech cluster in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. It was for me a natural thing to wonder about –is it really possible and feasible for all these regions to develop such new high tech industries? So I took a step back from this discrepancy between regions’ ambitious visions to develop new high-tech industries and the reality that I saw, and asked instead: Where do new industries develop? And what causes this development?
What is currently on your research agenda?
I’m focusing on the concept of a circular bioeconomy. And again, I am puzzled to understand what this circular bioeconomy really is? There is a lot of hype around this emerging concept but what does it really mean to a firm, an industry or a region?
I’m currently working on this in the context of a Nordic research project, called SusValueWaste where we study innovative and sustainable uses of organic residue streams. For example, there is a lot of organic waste from slaughterhouses – blood, bones, hides, intestines and organs etc. In some countries like Denmark everything is being utilized for either energy or products such as feed, pet food, casings, food ingredients or even medical products. I am interested in knowing how come this industry, that utilizes side-streams from slaughterhouses, has developed in Denmark and why some other countries face problems with handling slaughterhouse waste?
In a way you can see the rendering industry in Denmark as a spontaneously developed case of a circular bioeconomy-industry.
I hope that by increasing our knowledge about the rendering industry in Denmark, and why it has developed here, we can add to a better understanding of the circular bioeconomy-concept. Also when it comes to consequences and benefits for the particular industry and society, where such industries develop.