Sweden Needs New Research and Innovation Authority

"Close down the present four Swedish national research and innovation authorities –including the Swedish Research Council (VR) – and establish a new authority", says Madeleine Sandström, head of the report group appointed by the Swedish Government to evaluate the national research and innovation funding system in Sweden. The final report was published 19 March 2008.
 Sweden Needs New Research and Innovation Authority
2001: National Reform in Swedish Research and Innovation
The Swedish national research and innovation financing system comprises four main players: The Swedish Research Council (VR) which covers all scientific disciplines, the sector oriented research councils FAS and FORMAS, and the research and innovation authority VINNOVA. This organisational structure was established in 2001, through a national reform that aimed to improve cross disciplinary collaboration and enhance strategic efforts in Swedish research. The 2001 reform also intended to increase efficiency in research financing and support the development of innovation systems.

2008: Evaluation of the 2001 Reform
In 2007 the Swedish government appointed a report group in order to evaluate the results of the 2001 reform. According to the leader of the report group, Madeleine Sandström, the intentions of the reform have not been fulfilled. “The present distribution of responsibility between the research councils and VINNOVA, and the lack of close collaboration between all four units, create a bottleneck in the development process from research to innovation”, Sandström says in a chronicle in the Swedish paper Dagens Nyheter on 19 March 2008. She points at four main problems regarding Sweden’s organisation of the national research and innovation financiers:
  • There is a lack of connections between basic research and applied research
  • The national research financiers lack clear research policy and research strategy goals
  • New models for research financing, that have proven successful abroad, are not adopted
  • No one is responsible for securing knowledge exchange and close connections between communities for basic and applied/ user motivated research in order to facilitate collaboration

Sandström and her report group recommend that a new joint research and innovation authority be established, in order to fulfil the potential that strong research communities for basic research represent, and find a new way to achieve the aims of the 2001 reform.

The report also includes recommendations for the organisation of the new research and innovation authority.

Read Sandströms article here.

Download the Swedish report Forskningsfinansiering – kvalitet och relevans

(www.regeringen.se/ www.dn.se)