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14 October 2016

Good proposals for new programmes on climate and smart materials

Mistra has closed its funding calls for three new programmes: one on smart materials and two with a climate focus. Applications are now being evaluated and who is put in charge of the programmes will be decided in December. Altogether, Mistra will invest more than SEK 150 million in these initiatives.

The road to a new Mistra programme is clear but arduous. First the Board identifies a need. Next, Mistra’s secretariat compiles background material before a call for funding applications is issued. An intensive phase of selecting both the research focus and the team capable of realising the ideas then begins among the would-be programme providers.

The upcoming programme on the theme of ‘Smart materials for sustainable development’ will explore whether and how smart materials may be able to promote such development and solve significant environmental problems. The programme will not be confined to technical challenges. Instead, there will be investigation of the statutory regulation of new materials. The aim is to find the opportunities and solutions Sweden can apply, but also to strengthen our international competitiveness. However, it is the applicants’ task to formulate the precise nature of the programme.

High quality in smart materials

By the time the call ended, five applications had come in. In mid-October an international five-member panel, to whom all the applicants will be able to present their proposals, will meet. This evaluation panel will study all the material in depth, while investigating the applications in terms of research relevance and capacity to meet research needs. The panel will then submit to the Board a recommendation on the group it thinks should be made responsible for the new programme.

‘It’s been fun reading the applications and seeing what our background work has culminated in. There’s no doubt that all the applications are of high quality, with interesting research approaches,’ says Mistra’s Programmes Director Christopher Folkeson Welch.

Of the programme budget, SEK 60 million over four years, Mistra will provide 85%.

Innovative solutions on geopolitics

Mistra has also held funding calls in the area of climate science. The purpose of one initiative, on ‘Geopolitics and sustainable development’, is to investigate prospects of sustainable development in a changed geopolitical landscape, partly driven by global climate change in interaction with new demographic conditions and migration patterns.

Neither will this programme confine its research to risks, threats and challenges entailed by development. It will have an equally clear focus on opportunities and solutions that can benefit Sweden and Europe in international competition.

Four applications have been received, and the evaluation procedure will be similar to that for the other calls.

‘We’re pleased to have been sent applications from the research groups we hoped would apply. They’re all proficient, but innovative in different ways,’ says Johan Edman, the prospective head of programmes at Mistra.

The programme budget is SEK 56 million over four years, and Mistra will fund 85%.

Wide-ranging approach to achieving climate neutrality

The second climate programme, ‘Transformative changes in society to achieve challenging climate goals’, will focus on how, over just a few decades, Sweden can become a society without net emissions of greenhouse gases and with very limited use of fossil fuels. One question is how we can replace existing fossil-based technology while simultaneously developing Sweden as an industrial nation and welfare state.

By the closing date for this call, four applications had been received. They will be evaluated in early November by five international researchers headed by Stefan Nyström, who used to work in the Cross-Party Committee on Environmental Objectives.

The applications range widely. One specialises in transport services and another in steel production.

‘The size of the programme means that we’ve received applications from complex consortia including virtually all the Swedish universities and various industrial partners as well,’ says Thomas Nilsson, another Programmes Director at Mistra.

The programme budget is SEK 80 million over four years, of which Mistra is to fund 70%.

Mistra’s Board will decide which applicants will be given responsibility for the various programmes. The plan is for them to start early in 2017.

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