13 November 2012

Government research initiatives good for Mistra

Initiatives to enhance research quality and make results useful are the starting points for the new Research and Innovation Bill presented by the Government in mid-October. Lars-Erik Liljelund’s view is that many of these initiatives are in line with Mistra’s work and will contribute to the Foundation’s activities.

Under the Government’s Research and Innovation Bill, appropriations for research and development are to be increased by a total of SEK 4 billion by the year 2016. The plan is for more of the money to be distributed in ways that promote research quality and yield results that help to benefit business and meet society’s needs.
The biggest measure is that more resources for research and postgraduate education will be distributed directly to higher education institutions (HEIs).

The proportion that the HEIs themselves redistribute according to quality criteria will, however, rise to double the current 10% of appropriations. The Government is also taking selective measures aimed at making Sweden better at recruiting top international and outstanding young researchers.

‘All in all, it will smooth the way for researchers who want to build up strong research teams. This is good, because it will result in more groups characterised by high academic quality who can apply for and join our programmes,’ says Lars-Erik Liljelund, Mistra’s Chief Executive.

Liljelund also finds investing in the research institutes a good idea. Giving them a more solid academic base may strengthen their participation in both current and future Mistra programmes.

Investing in useful research

Besides an initiative focusing on life sciences, the Bill also entails measures in other areas that are deemed particularly important to the business sector and society. Liljelund thinks that the fact that the selective measures to be implemented are in areas where Mistra is already active, including sustainable urban development, forest raw materials and biomass, shows that Mistra’s priorities have been correct.

‘Mining and steel research, where we’ve invested resources and established strong research environments before, are also included. So it’s especially pleasing that this area is getting resources to keep developing. That’s the point of our long-term investments in research as well.’

Moreover, a new research programme on strategic innovation areas, focused on meeting key challenges to society, is starting. The aim is for research results to yield benefits both in companies and in public-sector activities. The Government is also investing in developing the HEIs’ research and innovation offices.

‘All the initiatives that push for making research results practically useful are encouraging. They’re in line with Mistra’s assignments and contribute to our work. That’s good for closer collaboration between academia and other stakeholders — something we know isn’t always that well established today when we develop our research programmes. The hope is that a better structure for this will now be established at the HEIs.’


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