Research in Sweden
The sky is the limit!
Sweden is among the nations worldwide that devote the most money to research relative to its population. Sweden's expenditures for R&D is total 3.26% of GDP.
The business sector accounts for around 70 percent and the higher education sector for 27% of this spending. Companies largely fund their own research, but receive some contributions from the government and abroad.
Public sector research funding
The public sector finances R&D through grants paid directly to higher education institutions (HEIs) and through support for research councils and sectoral research agencies. In addition, several research foundations have been started with public funds, providing research funding in excess of SEK 1.2 billion annually.
The Swedish Parliament grants R&D funds in all of the ministries' spheres of responsibility. The Minister for Higher Education and Research is responsible for overall coordination of research policy in the Government Offices. By far the greatest share of publicly funded research in Sweden is conducted in HEIs. Research institutes account for only a small share, which distinguishes Sweden by international comparison.
The information above and much more regarding research in Sweden is to be found at the website of the Swedish Research Council, a public agency under the authority of the Ministry of Education and Research, www.vr.se
The Swedish Research Barometer, the Swedish research system in international comparison.
The Swedish Higher Education Authority. Information about Higher Education Institutions in Sweden and a list of university colleges, universities and independent higher education providers.
Swedish Government, information about education and research in Sweden.
Research councils and agencies
Among the public bodies that fund research are a number of research foundations such as:
- Stiftelsen för internationalisering av högre utbildning och forskning, STINT, the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education
- Stiftelsen för kunskaps- och kompetensutveckling, KK, the Knowledge Foundation
- Stiftelsen för miljöstrategisk forskning, Mistra, the Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research
- Stiftelsen för strategisk forskning, SSF, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research
Another major source of funding is
- Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, RJ, the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation which mainly finances research in the humanities, theology,social sciences and law.
Private foundations and academies
In addition to these public sector financiers, there are private actors, some of these are:
- the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, which provides substantial funding for scientific equipment in particular.
- the Swedish Cancer Society is an independent non-profit organisation that raise and distribute money for cancer research.
- the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation is a charitable fundraising organisation that distributes money to heart, lung and vascular research.
Many organisations act as promoters of research within the research community, such as:
Research in Sweden is funded by government agencies, public foundations and private funders. An overview is given at http://www.government.se/government-policy/education-and-research/research-funding-in-sweden/
Generally researchers submit their applications to Swedish funding agencies on their own. Applications should normally be approved / signed by the Head of Department. Read more below what applies for the different funding agencies and about current open calls.
The four major research councils and agencies in Sweden:
1. Vinnova, Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems
Our research grants are open for all applicants – as long as the applicant is/will be employed by a Swedish Approved Administrating Organization co-signing the application. There are a few grants that more specifically promote mobility or international cooperation.
Some grants are open for researchers in all fields, others are linked to one of eight areas of science:
- Artistic research
- Clinical Therapy Research
- Development Research
- Educational sciences
- Humanities and social sciences
- Medicine and health
- Natural and engineering sciences
- National Coordination of Clinical Studies
All grants are regularly announced on the web site: www.vr.se. The web site provides instructions for applying as well as forms, contacts and the Research Council’s general terms and conditions.
Grants explicitly promoting mobility
Grants for Distinguished Professors
This grant is part of a programme to enable long term planning and secure prominent researchers the conditions to focus on their research. The Council plans to launch this grant every two years.
The Swedish Research Council's calls on visiting professorships are: Kerstin Hesselgren Visiting Professorship; Olof Palme Visiting Professorship; and Tage Erlander Visiting Professorship. The purpose of the visiting professorships is to enrich and develop the work of Swedish University departments in a manner that benefits the department's own activities, and can lead to continued international cooperation.
Grants promoting international co-operation
Research Network Grant – Swedish Research Links
The purpose of the Swedish Research Links programme is to support the development of long-term research partnerships between Swedish researchers and researchers within low income and lower middle-income countries. The program is open to researchers from all academic disciplines, covering theoretical as well as empirical, basic as well as applied fields of research. The countries eligible for these forms of collaborative research are on the OECD/DAC list (columns Least Developed Countries, Other Low Income Countries and Lower Middle Income Countries and Territories).
The Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils for the Humanities and the Social Sciences (NOS-HS) invites proposals for funding series of Nordic workshops. The aim of the grant is to promote research collaboration and development of new research areas and programmes within the humanities and social sciences in the Nordic countries.
The GROW programme
The Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW) enables NSF Graduate Research Fellows to gain international research experience and establish collaborations with counterparts at Swedish university departments, by working in Sweden for a shorter period of time. This grant is the result of cooperation between the American National Science Foundation and the Swedish Research Council.
3. Forte – Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
Forte spends about 550 million SEK (approx. 58.3 million Euros) yearly on research funding.
At present, Forte provides no funding opportunities specifically dedicated to incoming research fellows. However, researchers who hold a Ph.D. and are affiliated with a Swedish university, higher education institute (HEI) or at another research organisation that has been approved as an administrating organisation by Forte, are eligible to apply for funding in Forte´s regular calls.
Annual open call for proposals
Forte’s annual open call for proposals opens in December every year, and welcomes applications within Forte’s overall responsibilities of health, working life and welfare. The application process is divided into two stages, with submission of project outlines in December–January and full applications in April–May.
The call includes three grant types:
- Project grants provide funding for individual research projects and are awarded for a maximum of 3 years. The grant is open to researchers with a minimum requirement of a PhD.
- Junior researcher grants are awarded for 4 years and can be granted up to 6 years after PhD defence. The aim of this grant is to support early stage researchers. The grant should cover at least 40 % of the salary for a junior researcher.
- Postdoc grants are targeted at researchers in the beginning of their careers. The grants provide researchers the opportunity to continue their research career after obtaining their PhD. The grant can be applied for up to 2 years after doctoral examination. The grant is awarded for 2 years and corresponds to a full-time salary.
Thematic calls for proposals
Forte also makes thematic calls for proposals in response to identified needs in the society and the government´s intentions. Some of the thematic calls are joint initiatives with other countries and are intended for international research collaborations. See all open calls for proposals at https://forte.se/en/latest/funding.
4. Formas, Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning
Below is a list of other research-funding agencies:
- Institute of Medicine
- Nordforsk (coordinating and funding Nordic research)
- Scanbalt (network of networks)
- Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research
- The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation
- The Mittag-Leffler Institute
- The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
- The Swedish Energy Agency
- The Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education
- The Swedish Rheumatism Association
- Wenner-Gren Foundations