SciLifeLab’s view on the Government investigation on new authority structure for funding of research and innovation
(SOU 2023:59 Ny myndighetsstruktur för finansiering av forskning och innovation)
This recent government investigation proposes the establishment of three new funding agencies in Sweden: The Science Agency, The Strategic Research Agency and The Innovation Agency. At the same time, the current funding agencies, Formas, Forte, the Swedish Research Council, and Vinnova, are phased out, and the funding of research and innovation at the Swedish Energy Agency is discontinued. SciLifeLab welcomes the investigation’s extensive review of Swedish research and innovation funding, but also addresses that the investigation’s proposal may rather result in increased political governance through administrative restructuring than be based on the needs of research, innovation, and society as such. SciLifeLab therefore advocates for an in-depth impact analysis of how the proposed system will affect the whole research and innovation system in the short and long term in Sweden before any proposed changes are implemented. Here are the main comments and suggestions submitted to the government:
1. SciLifeLab believes that there is a risk that the proposed authority structure impedes and slows down cross-sectoral efforts. Research infrastructure, for instance, supports both basic- and applied research, and promotes innovations for societal benefit. The proposal is based on administrative streamline rather than the benefit of research and innovation, which should be the main driver behind such a comprehensive reform.
2. SciLifeLab asks for an increased participation from researchers and academia in the proposed strategic, coordinating and advisory bodies. A prerequisite for relevant priorities in research and innovation funding is that these are based on in-depth expertise, a curiosity-driven research perspective and development of cutting-edge technologies. Therefore, SciLifeLab suggests that the control of and development within the proposed authorities should have stronger anchorage in the scientific community.
3. SciLifeLab supports the proposal for long-term financing of large-scale research infrastructure. However, SciLifeLab believes that such funding should be based on regular evaluation of quality and significance for the research community. As a successful national strategic initiative and large-scale research infrastructure within life sciences, SciLifeLab should also onwards be financed directly from the government.
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