Benefit to society, increased gender equality and initiatives linked to societal challenges are in focus in the research bill presented by the Swedish government. The bill provides extra money to LiU for research into 5G and digitalisation.
Digitalisation is one of the principal challenges identified by this year’s research bill. The bill contains investment into centres for future engineering and digitalisation, where Minister for Higher Education and Research Helene Hellmark Knutsson has calculated that SEK 150 million should be transferred to the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and Linköping University in 2020 as extra investment into IT solutions made possible by the fifth generation of mobile technology.
Leading role within 5G
“It’s extremely gratifying that LiU will participate in the initiative, and it both confirms and reinforces our leading role within wireless 5G technology, not only in Sweden but also abroad. We already have several close collaborations with industry within 5G, and many innovations have been commercialised. Now we can expect these collaborations to be further strengthened,” comments Erik G Larsson, professor in communication systems at LiU.
Erik G Larsson is also director of the strategic research area ELLIIT, a collaboration in the field between LiU, Lund University, the Blekinge Institute of Technology and Halmstad University, and also mentioned as a success in the bill.
The general tone of the bill is otherwise rather general. It provides SEK 2.8 billion of increased research funding during the coming four years. In combination with the energy policy bill, which will be published in a few weeks, the increase in research funding will amount to SEK 3 billion.
Photo credit: Thor Balkhed“Sweden has fallen behind, and is now to retake its position as one of the leading countries in the world for research and innovation,” said Helene Hellmark Knutsson when presenting the bill.
Sweden is to regain this leading position by increasing the benefit to society of research and an overall increase in quality. Global societal challenges that have been given priority are the climate, digitalisation and health/life sciences. Societal challenges faced by Sweden that the minister singled out for attention are ensuring sustainable urban planning and increasing the quality of education, particularly within compulsory schooling and upper secondary schools.
The basic appropriation to universities and university colleges will be increased by SEK 1.3 billion, from the current level of SEK 14.7 billion. The increase is not to result in an increased number of employees, but better conditions. Thus, the government expects that the extra money is to be used to increase gender equality, increase collaboration with the society around institutions of higher education, improve the exploitation of research results, develop attractive career paths for young researchers, increase mobility and open competition for academic positions, bring closer ties between research and education, increase the responsibility taken for research infrastructure, and participate in EU projects.
One concrete objective is that by 2030 half of all newly appointed professors are to be women. Collaboration with society will also be given as much weight as publications and citations when allocating external funds, with effect from 2018.
“The complete system for controlling institutions of higher education and allocating resources is to be reviewed, and the basis required for a new decision is to be available by 2020,” said Helene Hellmark Knutsson.
Responsibility for quality
The Swedish Higher Education Authority, UKÄ, will be given responsibility for quality within research, in addition to responsibility for quality within education, which it has at present.
“In this way, the authority has responsibility for quality for complete knowledge environments,” she said.
Helene Hellmark Knutsson also presented a number of areas that will receive a total of SEK 420 million in extra investment in the coming 10 years. These include research areas such as climate, sustainable urban planning, design for accessibility, migration and integration, antibiotic resistance, applied welfare research and working life research.
The Swedish Research Council will also receive SEK 60 million extra to strengthen research in the humanities and social sciences. Further, the government has allocated SEK 90 million for a research school coupled with teacher and preschool teacher education programmes. Special collaborative projects within the framework of Vinnova will be established in several areas, including next-generation travel and transport, smart cities, circular and biobased economies, life sciences, online industry, and new materials.
Malmö University College will be given the status of university in 2018.