Brussels, 23 Mar 2005
Sweden's government presented a bill entitled 'Research for a Better Life' to the national parliament on 22 March, detailing how it plans to allocate the extra 2.34 billion SEK (256 million euro) that it is investing in research.
The funding increase is designed to bolster Sweden's position as one of Europe's leading research nations. The measures target both fundamental and needs-driven research, with the aim of stimulating new innovations for growth and sustainable development. The measures are also supported by the government's coalition partners the Left Party and the Green Party.
'This bill contains a great deal of new funding for Swedish research,' said Minister of Education ad Research Leif Pagrotsky. 'The government has chosen to highlight a few of the fields where Sweden is an international leader and where the stakes are high for both the public and private sectors.'
Mr Pagrotsky continued: 'Sweden invests more than any other country in research and development, and in this bill my ambition is to further strengthen our international competitiveness.'
The bill targets three areas considered to be critically important to the future development of Sweden: medical research, technological research and research in support of sustainable development. Commenting on the latter, Green Party member Mikaela Valtersson said: '[There is] a commitment to research for sustainable development amounting to 210 million SEK [23 million euro]. This places the focus on crucial issues for the future like climate change and sustainable development in the green sector where new knowledge is needed.'
In addition to these three priority areas, the government will also divert a significant proportion of the increased funding (57 million euro) to universities and university colleges. These extra funds will be used to strengthen research and graduate education, help provide employment opportunities for newly graduated PhDs, and bolster commercialisation activities.
Another 300 million SEK (33 million euro) will be invested in internationally competitive centres of research excellence. According to the government, however: 'Universities, university colleges, research institutes, companies and other interested parties are expected to commit considerable resources of their own to these strong research environments.'
The government will also take this opportunity to reorganise its structures for EU research collaboration. The EU R&D Council is to be dissolved, and its responsibilities for promoting Swedish participation in EU research will be transferred to the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems (Vinnova). Finally, the bill states that special attention should be paid to opportunities for small businesses to take part in the EU framework programmes, and around one million euro will be spent on efforts to enable small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to access research.
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