On August 11, the outcome of an important official government investigation on all national research infrastructures was presented by Tobias Krantz, former Minister for Higher Education and Research who was commissioned to lead the investigation. One of the topics that was discussed concerned the role and steering of SciLifeLab as a national life science infrastructure. No major changes are suggested to this role, except some clarification of responsibility of KTH as a primary host of SciLifeLab.
In May 2020, the Ministry of Education commissioned the special investigator Tobias Krantz to submit proposals for the development of the organization, governance and financing of national research infrastructure. This was therefore not a scientific or performance review, but an investigation into the organizational aspects of national infrastructures and the role of e-infrastructures.
The primary aim of the investigation was to clarify the organizational aspects needed to maintain high-quality research infrastructures that will be an effective support to meet societal challenges, and to make Sweden one of the world’s leading countries for research and innovation.
According to the investigation ”most stakeholders believe that SciLifeLab works well and has achieved fantastic results in research”. Legal and organizational challenges are discussed in detail, but the Krantz investigation concludes that the present structure and funding model are likely optimal for SciLifeLab, and any major change could interfere with the important ongoing mission. The report does suggest some changes to the model by which KTH’s role as a primary host to SciLifeLab is executed. However, overall, there were quite a few suggestions for coordinating and steering other national infrastructures and e-infrastructures.
“The SciLifeLab part of the report needs to be extensively discussed with the SciLifeLab board and with the host universities and specifically KTH” says Olli Kallioniemi, Professor and Director of SciLifeLab, and continues, “However, the SciLifeLab community can be satisfied with the very positive tone in the report, and the fact that no major reorganization of SciLifeLab is suggested. Thus, the path SciLifeLab has taken with a technology- and data-driven approach to life science seems sensible to continue.
Selected suggestions from the investigation regarding national infrastructures in general include:
• The political governance of national research infrastructures should be developed further
• A future authority for research infrastructures of particular national interest should be established
• The conditions for the higher education institutions’ collaboration on research infrastructure should be strengthened
• The perspective on research infrastructure should be broadened and the business community’s opportunity to participate in both construction and use should be increased.
• Digital infrastructures for research should be gathered under one authority
The report ”Stärkt fokus på framtidens forskningsinfrastruktur SOU 2021:65” is available (in Swedish) here.