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The Swedish government investigates new authority structure for funding of research & innovation

A recent government investigation proposes the establishment of three new funding agencies in Sweden, The Science Agency, The Strategic Research Agency and The Innovation Agency.

At the same time, the current funding agencies, Formas, Forte, the Swedish Research Council, and Vinnova, are phased out, and the funding of research and innovation at the Swedish Energy Agency is discontinued.

SciLifeLab’s view

SciLifeLab welcomes the investigation’s extensive review of Swedish research and innovation funding, but also addresses that the investigation’s proposal may rather result in increased political governance through administrative restructuring than be based on the needs of research, innovation, and society as such. SciLifeLab therefore advocates for an in-depth impact analysis of how the proposed system will affect the whole research and innovation system in the short and long term in Sweden before any proposed changes are implemented. Here are the main comments and suggestions submitted to the government by SciLifeLab:

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1. SciLifeLab believes that there is a risk that the proposed authority structure impedes and slows down cross-sectoral efforts. Research infrastructure, for instance, supports both basic- and applied research, and promotes innovations for societal benefit. The proposal is based on administrative streamline rather than the benefit of research and innovation, which should be the main driver behind such a comprehensive reform.

2. SciLifeLab asks for an increased participation from researchers and academia in the proposed strategic, coordinating and advisory bodies. A prerequisite for relevant priorities in research and innovation funding is that these are based on in-depth expertise, a curiosity-driven research perspective and development of cutting-edge technologies. Therefore, SciLifeLab suggests that the control of and development within the proposed authorities should have stronger anchorage in the scientific community.

3. SciLifeLab supports the proposal for long-term financing of large-scale research infrastructure. However, SciLifeLab believes that such funding should be based on regular evaluation of quality and significance for the research community. As a successful national strategic initiative and large-scale research infrastructure within life sciences, SciLifeLab should also onwards be financed directly from the government.

Read SciLifeLab’s full respons (in Swedish) here!

SwedenBIO’s view

“Research and innovation funding is a crucial component for the existence of an internationally competitive life science industry in Sweden. In general, it can be said that the investigation is very well done, especially with regard to transparency and inclusion,” states SwedenBIO.

The investigators’ presence on social media, invitations to talks and continuous updates have facilitated participation in the process and understanding of the final decision. The investigation is also highly anticipated. It is about time to update the current system, and a reform aimed at increased clarity and simplified application processes is very welcome, writesSwedenBIO.

“In general, we support the proposal that a new authority structure should be established with essentially the tasks suggested by the investigator. However, we do not take a position on whether the option of three or two authorities is preferable,” writes SwedenBIO.

Read their full response (in Swedish) here!