Denmark has announced a new national research strategy in an attempt to meet criticism from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development three years ago.
Jytte Hilden, research minister, said more venture capital had to be at the disposal of young research talents. And encouragement of competent researchers in areas which match the needs of the business community, should continue.
The strategy, which has taken two years to formulate, aims to improve the acquisition of knowledge, promote technological innovation and employment, and improve the quality of life and the environment and health.
There will be an increased focus on crossing disciplinary borders, public/private co-operation and the role of women. The strategy will be supported by sub-strategies for agriculture, fisheries, health, biotechnology, environment and energy, information technology and materials. The plans for agriculture, adopted by the government in January 1995, put high priority on the quality and safety of agricultural products, health and welfare research in animal husbandry, and landscape research. The 1997 budget devotes DKr200 million (Pounds 19m) over four years to the strategy for health, emphasising genetics, treatment methods, neurology and psychiatry, health services and disease prevention.
In the strategy for the environment and energy, prepared early in 1996, the social sciences (environment and energy), sustainable use of land, transport (environment and energy) and substances hazardous to the environment or health, will be reviewed.
Ms Hilden said: "Denmark is and must continue to be a pioneer in the organisation of research. Achieving that means putting our only raw material, our brains and the next generations, to the best use. The national research strategy is a rolling process for targeting and generating breakthroughs in Danish research. I want this process to be created in close dialogue with all participants in the research system."
Ms Hilden, minister of cultural affairs until her appointment to research and technology at the end of December, believes that bridges should be built between culture and science. "The problematic relationship between technical and non-technical education will not be solved while people in the humanities refuse to acknowledge or discuss technical developments in society," she said The research will be backed by an electronic national research library and a network giving researchers, students and the business community a quick, efficient and easily accessed national and international research facility. Mobility will be encouraged at all levels in the higher educational system, not just between universities, industry and sector research institutes, but also across disciplinary borders.
A Swedish decision to establish a university in Malmo will put the focus on higher education and research and development in the north-east of the Danish island of Zealand and the southernmost tip of Sweden.
Additionally, a new road/rail connection will not only link the University of Lund, north of Malmo, with Copenhagen, but also with the Technical University of Denmark and Roskilde University. The changes will mean northern Germany and the universities at Stockholm (Sweden), Odense, Aarhus and Aalborg (all Denmark) will be just a few hours away.