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Sweden discusses priorities for research bill

The cream of Sweden's research policy community outlined what they want from next year's research bill (Forskningsproposition) in an open question and answer session in the country's parliamentary buildings on 29 September.

Increasing Sweden’s ability to attract foreign researchers, improving the quality—and not just the quantity—of the country’s research and more incentives for universities to collaborate with industry featured highly on the wish list.

Kerstin Niblaeus, former director general of the EU’s council of ministers, said that successful foreign researchers often decline jobs in Sweden when they realise how little basic funding they get with the post.

Tobias Krantz, former research minister and current head of education, research and innovation at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv) called for more focus on outputs from research investments. “Extra resources is not enough – we have to look at how they are used,” he said.

Krantz added that gaps remained between universities and businesses, and that next year’s research bill should introduce more incentives for collaboration.

There were also several calls for peer review – as opposed to metrics such as citations – to play a greater role in how universities’ core research grants are divided up between institutions.

The last research bill, published in 2008, featured a large increase in funding for research – in particular in areas deemed of strategic importance to Sweden such as environmental science, medicine and technology.

However, these investments have had some unforeseen consequences, the meeting heard. The investments seem to have benefited male researchers more than female ones, said Pam Fredman, chairwoman of the Association of Swedish Higher Education (SUHF). They also seem to have decreased universities’ productivity, in terms of publications, in the short term.

The next research bill will be published by the government in the course of 2012.