digitalisation illustration

Six research groups to develop digital solutions for the public sector

The Research and Innovation Programme on Digitalisation of the Public Sector has allocated funding for six research projects targeted towards digital solutions for the public sector. The Baltic countries and the UK will take part in the research projects together with the Nordic countries, and NordForsk is pleased to see that research collaboration between these three regions are growing stronger.

According to Director of NordForsk, Arne Flåøyen:

“NordForsk is funding six excellent projects in which Nordic researchers have the opportunity to collaborate with experts from Estonia, Latvia and United Kingdom. This is a win-win situation for Nordic, Baltic and UK researchers. I am convinced that this collaboration will enhance the digital solutions to be developed for use in the public sector. I also believe that the resulting digital solutions will reach a larger audience and be more widely applied than if these were purely Nordic projects.”

The programme is a collaboration between NordForsk, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte), Innovation Fund Denmark, the Research Council of Norway, the Academy of Finland, the Estonian Research Council, the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science, and the Economic and Social Research Council, which is part of UK Research and Innovation.

Programme Committee Leader Torbjørn Larsen states the following:

“The development of information technology and the digitalisation of work processes and value creation places enormous pressure to restructure on all activities in society today. There are many indications that we are in the midst of a technology-driven paradigm shift as powerful as any in the history books – the industrial revolution of the 18th century, the electrification of society, or the introduction of industrialised mass production more than 100 years ago. These all represent periods of restructuring that over time fundamentally change the framework conditions for how people live, work and participate in society, and today it’s hard to find an industry that won’t need to reinvent itself within the next few decades,” and adds:

“At the same time, we see that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is helping to accelerate this development and underscore the gulf between those who are able to deploy new technology, and to develop and adapt their practices and value creation to new conditions, and those who cannot.”

Torbjørn Larsen states that a key point in this context is that the public sector is in no way exempt from these universal laws. New societal challenges necessitate restructuring and development of policy and legislation, as well as welfare schemes, public services and value creation.

He elaborates: “In a world subject to upheaval and imbalance, many are looking to the Nordic welfare societies as role models that appear to succeed relatively well in responding to the need for restructuring and social development. NordForsk’s R&D programme on digitalisation of the public sector therefore offers an exciting and valuable opportunity to mobilise some of the best R&D environments in and around the Nordic countries to develop new and important knowledge and solutions targeted towards the Nordic welfare model and the welfare society of tomorrow.”

Here is a brief overview of the six projects selected to receive funding:

Nordic eHealth for Patients: Benchmarking and Developing for the Future
Project Leader: Maria Hägglund, Uppsala University
Read more here.

Infrastructures for partially digital citizens: Supporting informal welfare work in the digitized state
Project Leader: Brit Ross Winthereik, IT University of Copenhagen
Read more here.

Digitalisation of livestock data to improve veterinary public health
Project Leader: Jessica Enrigh, University of Glasgow
Read more here.

Critical Understanding of Predictive Policing
Project Leader: Vasileios Galis, IT University of Copenhagen
Read more here.

Collective Intelligence through Digital Tools
Project Leader: Mikko Rask, University of Helsinki
Read more here.

Civic Agency in Public E-service Innovation
Project Leader: Jörn Christiansson, IT University of Copenhagen
Read more here.

The overarching aim of the call is to combine and integrate knowledge-based, digital innovation efforts with research on the related effects and impact on society and end-users. This is to be based on factors that enable digital transformation of the public sector, such as emerging technologies, emerging organisational practices, and emerging regulatory frameworks and governance mechanisms.

The Nordic region is high-performing and digitally mature with regards to the public sector. However, there is a strong political imperative to further improve the efficiency and governance of public services by means of additional digitalisation. This includes considerations of public infrastructure, (automation of) services and self-enablement, etc.

Read more about the Digitalisation programme here.

Note: There may be changes to the above information. Only decisions communicated directly to applicants by email are considered formal confirmation of funding awards. All applicants will receive a formal written response to their grant application.