Avoid political interference in research

The Swedish Minister of research and education Lars Leijonborg recently presented the priorities of the upcoming Swedish research bill. – Political interference in research should be avoided, and limited to high-level management only, he says. He promises a strengthening of research in the fields of climate and medicine, two areas that have also been singled out as priority areas within the Nordic research cooperation in the coming years.
Lars Leijonborg underlines the importance of striving to achieve quality at all levels within research. He estimates that there are several signs pointing to a weakening of excellence within Swedish research. In an attempt to reverse this trend, a higher proportion of research funding must be awarded on the basis of competition and quality criteria. The government therefore aims to allocate more funding to the universities and to basic funding. – Research which is close to commercialisation is also important, but we are sawing off the branch we are sitting on if we do not commit substantial funding to curiosity driven research, even when it as far as we can see is a long way from commercialisation, says Lars Leijonborg.

The Minister of research and education also points to the importance of strategic prioritisation. The government will in the upcoming research bill point out some areas of strategic importance and commit funding to substantial research in these. Two such fields have been identified. One is climate research – from meteorology and polar research to energy efficiency and new energy technologies. The other is medical research, including biomedicine and medicinal technique.