PublISHED ON 18 May 2018

UpDATED ON 18 June 2018

How Swedish research is funded

Each year, the Swedish Government allocates funds for research in the national budget. Approximately half of those funds go directly to higher education institutions (HEIs). The rest is allocated to researchers by government research funding bodies and other public authorities. The Swedish Research Council is the largest of all the government research funding bodies. You can read more about the allocation of public funds and our role in the research system here.

Research and development – R&D

Research and development, R&D, is the term used to describe all research and development work carried out in a country. It covers everything from basic research to the development of products and services that are based on research results.

The percentage of a country’s GDP that is spent on research and development, along with the percentage of the population actively working with research, provides a measure of the amount of resources a country devotes to R&D. In international comparisons, Sweden ranks at the top when it comes to investment in research and development. Companies account for nearly 60 per cent of the funding, and also conduct most of the research. Research at HEIs accounts for approximately 25 per cent of the total Swedish R&D system and is primarily publicly funded.

Research funding in Sweden 

Financing of research and development can be viewed from two perspectives. Allocation by funding body (upper section of the figure) is one view, another is where/by whom the research is conducted (lower section of the figure). The figure shows the financial volume, in billion SEK, and the cash flows in the Swedish R&D system for 2015. The total amount differs, which has to do with various factors such as funds being paid to a researcher in a certain year, but only a portion of those funds getting used in that same year. Source: The Swedish Research Barometer 2017

Research and development – R&D

Research and development, R&D, is the term used to describe all research and development work carried out in a country. It covers everything from basic research to the development of products and services that are based on research results.

The percentage of a country’s GDP that is spent on research and development, along with the percentage of the population actively working with research, provides a measure of the amount of resources a country devotes to R&D. In international comparisons, Sweden ranks at the top when it comes to investment in research and development. Companies account for nearly 60 per cent of the funding, and also conduct most of the research. Research at HEIs accounts for approximately 25 per cent of the total Swedish R&D system and is primarily publicly funded.

Amount of government funding that goes to research

During the period 2005–2017, government funding of research increased from around 24 billion SEK per year to around 37 billion SEK per year. Almost half went straight to HEIs as direct government funding (block grants). The remainder was allocated to researchers via government research funding bodies (such as the Swedish Research Council), or to public agencies that either distribute research funding or use the funds to conduct their own research (examples are the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute).

Targeted Government initiatives

Sometimes, the Government earmarks funds for research areas deemed to be particularly important. Public authorities, including the Swedish Research Council, are responsible for implementing such targeted initiatives.

The Swedish Research Council allocates more than 6 billion SEK

In total, the Swedish Research Councilallocates more than 6 billion SEK per year to research and research infrastructures at Swedish HEIs. This means that we finance just over one-tenth of the research conducted at HEIs.

We are the largest external funding body of research conducted at the country’s HEIs in most scientific fields. We are also the only funding body in Sweden that funds research in all scientific fields.

How we allocate our funds

The Government’s guidelines and our own funding strategy governs how we allocate our research funds among the various types of research support. The Swedish Research Council offers several types of support that serve different purposes. We have a variety of grant types that fall within the scope of our support.

The largest amount of funds goes to projects for independent research. A large portion also goes to advanced tools in the form of infrastructures that researchers require. Other types of support are grants to research environments, collaboration and career support. Read more about it in the 2017 Annual Report of the Swedish Research Council.

Most support goes to projects for independent research

The largest portion of our research funding goes to project support. These are grants where researchers have the freedom to formulate their own research idea, method and execution themselves. Project grants with a free focus may be applied for in the following subject areas: Humanities and Social Sciences, Medicine and Health, Natural and Engineering Sciences and Educational Sciences.

We select the best research ideas in a process with open calls, in competition, after in-depth peer review and prioritisation.

Major responsibility for research infrastructures

The Swedish Research Council funds research infrastructures in Sweden and other countries. Research infrastructures are advanced tools that researchers require in order to carry out their research. Examples include databases, research facilities, biobanks and large-scale computational tools.

A portion of the funds that we allocate to research infrastructures goes to various memberships in large international research facilities, such as the particle physics laboratory European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), and the neutron-scattering facility European Spallation Source (ESS), which is currently under construction in Lund, Sweden.

We give grants to research infrastructures via our calls, amounting to as much as 50 per cent of the total budget. Large national research infrastructures, such as the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC) and the MAX IV next-generation synchrotron radiation facility require a larger collaboration effort on funding. Additional partners are then involved.

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Analysis and evaluation

forskningspolitik@vr.se

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Difference between research and development

Research is about systematically searching for new knowledge or new ideas, with or without a specific application area in mind. Development is about using research results and scientific knowledge to create new products, services, processes, systems and methods, or to improve those that already exist.

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Analysis and evaluation

forskningspolitik@vr.se

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