15 October 2013

Collaboration in future research

How is Swedish research to be strong and meet new challenges? And what form should investments take to afford important breakthroughs in knowledge? In mid-September, a new project started at the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) to analyse ways forward. Mistra is taking part as one of the stakeholders.

Research plays a key part in the evolution of society. What will it take for Sweden to remain a successful, prosperous nation with a strong business sector that creates job opportunities? The ‘Research Viewing Point’ (Utsiktsplats Forskning) project at the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (Ingenjörsvetenskaps­akademien, IVA) seeks to answer this question.

Mistra is among the funders of this project, which started with an initial meeting in mid-September. It serves partly to follow up the ‘Agenda for Research’ project, which was concluded in 2012.

‘It was a good process that yielded much vital knowledge of obstacles and opportunities for Swedish research. Agenda for Research focused on the research policy bill taking shape at the time. But there proved to be continued interest in continuing to work on these issues even after the Bill had come into being,’ explains Lars-Erik Liljelund, Mistra’s Chief Executive.

Many plans for further work

A range of challenges to research policy have already been identified by the stakeholders taking part. Besides Mistra, there are other research foundations involved: the research councils the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (Formas), the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte), the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA) and Uppsala University.

‘The next stage will be to develop an agenda for what we’re going to work on. There are any number of things to look at more closely,’ Liljelund says.

Questions he finds interesting from Mistra’s point of view include the issue of how risk and failures can be managed.

‘What characterises risk-taking research that can provide new knowledge breakthroughs, and when is this kind of investment deemed to be a failure? And does the risk propensity decrease with the size of an initiative? It is interesting for us, the funder of large research programmes.

Other key issues are the connection between research training and the labour market outside the academic world. ‘Research Viewing Point’ will continue for three years.

Text: Andreas Nilsson, Vetenskapsjournalisterna

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