Mistra Financial Systems

Financial systems will play a crucial part in the shift to a more circular economy. Mistra is therefore offering funding for a new research programme on the financial systems’ possibilities and limitations, and on the changes needed to enable these systems to contribute to sustainable development of society. With its system-critical and solution-oriented approach, the programme will require participation from actors in the financial sector.

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A background report commissioned by Mistra provides proposals on the design of the new programme. This report is based partly on an earlier prestudy funded by Mistra.

The premise is that financial systems are crucially important for the transition to a circular economy and that this transition will be of the utmost significance for Sweden’s environment, as well as the national economy. Too little attention has been paid to understanding the catalytic role of the financial markets in the change-over. New policy instruments and regulations should therefore be studied and introduced.

The programme will be characterised by a systemic approach emphasising interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary ways forward. It is expected to be based on extensive involvement by financial market actors. The background report lists numerous institutions that the programme will variously concern: banks, asset managers, public agencies and parliamentary committees, for example, but also international organisations like the OECD and UNEP.


Mistra’s research programmes usually extend over many years and are aimed at bringing about long-term change. Expectations of Mistra Financial Systems are partly different: the programme is expected to deliver results at an early stage, in the form of concrete proposals for institutional reforms and other solutions in close liaison with players in the financial sector. It is thus very important for the programme to be capable, early on, of building international networks for researchers and sector representatives who work at the interface of sustainability and financial issues for the benefit of new policy.

The programme should have a cutting edge and will be explicitly confined to the role and function of the financial systems. It should also be characterised by flexible governance that paves the way for relatively rapid results. The programme will thereby, in terms of content and organisation, partially differ from the newly established centre at the Stockholm School of Economics, the Mistra Centre for Sustainable Markets (MISUM), which has a considerably broader remit. The new programme and MISUM are, accordingly, expected to complement each other, and for Mistra’s part there will be a demand for certain synergies between the two initiatives.

Otherwise, Mistra does not prescribe the content of the programme. Applicant groups are expected to define for themselves, to a large extent, the objectives, targets and deliverables of their research in consultation with relevant stakeholders. They should do so on the basis of the instructions and evaluation criteria laid down in the call and the guidelines on Mistra’s web page headed “Managing mistra programmes”.

Who can apply?

This call primarily addresses research groups at Swedish universities and research institutes. Researchers and organisations working outside Sweden are welcome to participate as partners in the application, but the main applicant and the proposed programme host must be a Swedish institution. Banks, asset managers and other organisations will take part as partners.

Funding and budget

Mistra is granting SEK 30 million for the programme. Its total budget is, however, expected to be considerably larger since active assistance, including co-funding, from participating partners is seen as a precondition for a successful programme.

The co-funding may be in cash or in kind, and can come from the applicants’ universities and/or other stakeholders in the programme. Mistra is particularly in favour of the funding being partially provided by the financial sector’s institutions outside academia.

Mistra’s rules on overhead costs apply to this call.

Application process and review

The application should be sent as a single PDF file by email to mail@mistra.org. It must reach Mistra by 4:00 pm on 20 May 2015 at the latest.

Applications must be written in English. The maximum length is 100 pages, including appendices. If the application exceeds 100 pages, the additional pages will not be taken into account in the evaluation.

The application must include the following parts:

  • Summary in English and Swedish
  • Vision and aims
  • Scientific value of the programme
  • Benefits to society of the programme
  • Organisation of the programme
  • Skills and networks
  • Description of projects included
  • Deliverables
  • Communication
  • Budget.

The applications will be evaluated by an expert panel comprising researchers as well as practitioners. They will apply the following evaluation criteria:

  1. Programme idea and prospects of bringing about changes in the financial systems that favour transformation into a circular economy (overarching criterion)
  2. Scientific quality of the research
  3. Degree of collaboration with players in the financial sector and expected benefits
  4. Integration of the programme’s various parts and plan to promote an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary way of working
  5. Management, organisation, communication and budget.

All research funded by Mistra must be in accordance with the Foundation’s Statues.

Mistra is subject to the principle of public access to official documents, and all applications submitted to Mistra are therefore publicly available. Under some circumstances, Mistra may decide that parts of an application will not be made public.

Only applications that meet the requirements in this call document will be taken into consideration.

Time schedule

9 February 2015                    Opening date for applications

28 May 2015                          Closing date for applications

June–August 2015                 Evaluation of applications

September 2015 (prel.)         Decision by Mistra’s Board

1 January 2016 (prel.)            Programme start


Johan Edman, Programmes Director, Mistra +46 (0)8-791 10 28 and +46-(0)70-73 240 73, johan.edman@mistra.org.