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Swedish foundation’s party spending sparks review

The Swedish Foundation of Strategic Research (SSF), a public-sector grantmaker, will be scrutinised by independent auditors following revelations that it has spent millions of taxpayers' money on parties and public relations.

The daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter claims that SSF spent over 9 million kronor (€1.1m) on parties over a three-year period. Expenses include 138,000 kronor for balloons and 185,000 kronor for invitations made out of glass, the newspaper reported this month.

The foundation says it will call on the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to carry out the audit. But speaking to Research Europe Today on 16 August, Eva Regård, SSF’s communications officer, said a more independent audit was needed.

SSF failed to draw up a contract when it hired Swedish party-fixer Michael Bindefeld in 2009, and expenses were not documented in accordance with Swedish law. The receipts are now coming to light, and the foundation acknowledges that mistakes were made. “It is a lot of money, and we could have used it in better ways,” says Regårdh.

The foundation stopped using Bindefeld’s company in March this year.

SSF allocates grants worth about 600 million kronor each year, with a focus on biotechnology, information technology, materials science and product development technology.