Swedish victory in the Nordic FORCE final

The competition was tough, but finally Sweden’s Lovisa Pettersson was named the winner in the Nordic semi-final of the newly created FORCE competition.

Arrangers CooperVision, the jury and the competing students were all extremely satisfied with the first edition of FORCE (Future Ocular Research Creativity Event). The competition united ophthalmology and optometry students from institutions around Europe to present their scientific work. Five out of seven institutions took part in the Nordic semi-final. Harald Angström at CooperVision was the initiative taker for this event, and thinks that there will be more participants next year.
“Interest is very high and the reason why some participants didn’t compete this year was only due to a shortage of time,” says Harald Angström, Professional Service Marketing Director EMEA at CooperVision.

The contact lens company CooperVision is behind the competition. The company has previously arranged similar competitions in England. Harald Angström felt that it was time to take the concept to the European level.

“For CooperVision, it’s very important to meet tomorrow’s customers and collaboration partners. These students will be the influential opticians of the future,” says Charlotte Antmarker, Marketing Manager Nordic, CooperVision.

“I call it a win-win-win situation,” adds Harald Angström. “The students make important contacts, the universities get a chance to network and collaborate, and we gain by making contacts ourselves but also by being visible in this context with our message about contact lenses.

The first edition of FORCE was held on Saturday 23 February at St. Eriks Ögonsjukhus at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. Dr. Anna Lindskoog Pettersson, who teaches and researches at the Karolinska Institutet, confirms that there is strong interest in FORCE from the academy:

“It’s a very good opportunity for our students to present and talk about what they have achieved in their work. For staff, it’s important to meet colleagues and students from other institutions. CooperVision’s concept is extremely sound,” Anna concludes.

In total, there were five participants in the Nordic semi-final. After the Norwegian finalist had to pull out on grounds of ill-health, two Swedish, one Finnish and one Danish competition entry remained. According to the rules, the students could compete singly or in pairs. Lovisa Pettersson from the Karolinska Institutet and Johan Hedström from Linnaeus University competed individually. Denmark was represented by Mette Østergaard and Christina Søndergaard from Copenhagen. The Finnish contribution was presented by Tiina Törmänen and Jenni-Maria Keränen from Oulu.

Following a short introduction by Martin Iversen, Nordic Professional Service Manager at CooperVision, the students’ supervisors took their places at the jury table. The students’ presentations were limited to a maximum length of 15 minutes for the presentation itself and the same for the question session that followed. The atmosphere was tense, but all of the competitors’ contributions were extremely good and offered a great deal of interesting and thought-provoking information.

“The jury’s decision was difficult. Each of the entries was a worthy winner,” says jury member Dr. Fredrik Källmark.

The students’ work and presentations were assessed in terms of originality, relevance, quality and clarity. The jury deliberated for an hour, after which Karolinska Institutet student Lovisa Pettersson was named Nordic winner for her work “Difference in the Anterior Chamber Angles of the Four Meridians”, which she presented in a confident and elegant manner.

“The industry language is English, so that is the competition language for all students throughout Europe. This was one of many areas in which Lovisa excelled,” says Martin Iversen.

In fact, all participants in the Nordic final were winners, as they received a check for £1000 from CooperVision in addition to their weekend in Stockholm. But the real victor was Lovisa Pettersson. Her cheque was twice as big.

“It came at just the right time. I’ll be using the money to travel to the BCLA contact lens conference in Manchester in June.”

But before that Lovisa Pettersson will be travelling to Nice on 23 March to represent the Nordic countries in the major European final of CooperVision’s FORCE competition.

“FORCE is a very good way of learning more and obtaining an insight into what’s going on in other universities around Europe. It will be great to meet the other students.”

The student who wins the prize in Nice receives not only the “CooperVision FORCE European Student of the Year” award, but also wins a trip to Seattle to take part in the American Academy of Optometry’s clinical conference, with travel, accommodation and registration expenses all paid.

The second edition of FORCE’s European final will take place in Barcelona in April 2014.

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