PublISHED ON 18 May 2018

UpDATED ON 25 September 2019

Research infrastructures – advanced tools for research

Researchers sometimes require advanced tools in order to conduct their research. We refer to such tools as research infrastructures. Examples include databases, research facilities, biobanks and large-scale computational tools. The Swedish Research Council funds research infrastructures in Sweden and other countries. We do so in order to create the best possible conditions for Swedish research.

Research infrastructures benefit society at large

Access to research infrastructures is often a prerequisite for conducting top-quality innovative research. Typically, a research infrastructure also becomes a venue for creativity, which helps researchers develop their expertise.

Research that is conducted at research faculties such as the MAX IV laboratory and ESS in Lund provide innovations and solutions to various types of challenges facing society. By collaborating with researchers, industry and society can also derive benefits from such research facilities. Furthermore, construction of these facilities usually constitutes large-scale, advanced projects that themselves build up leading expertise in development and design, for example. Such expertise benefits other parts of society as well.

A need for such things as transportation, housing and services also arises around the facilities themselves, which in turn has a positive impact on societal development.

The Swedish Research Council assesses the need for new research infrastructures

Every two years, the Swedish Research Council carries out a needs inventory to assess what needs exist with regard to research infrastructures in Sweden. The purpose of this inventory is to capture proposals for new national needs for research infrastructures. Based on this inventory, we create a long-term plan for meeting the needs of research. The Council for Research Infrastructures (RFI) at the Swedish Research Council is responsible for planning, prioritising and financing research infrastructures.

Our requirements for national and international research infrastructures

We finance research infrastructures of broad national interest that provide the prerequisites for world-leading research. In order to receive a grant, both national and international research infrastructures must meet our requirements. The research infrastructure must

  • enable research of the highest scientific quality, and thereby contribute to the development of society
  • be openly accessible primarily to researchers, but also to industry and other relevant actors operating in Sweden. When access is limited, prioritisation shall primarily be on the basis of scientific quality
  • be of broad national interest, which in most cases means that the research infrastructure is used by several research teams and researchers from several research organisations, and that the Swedish Research Council’s funding creates national added value
  • have a long-term planning for the scientific activities
  • have a long-term planning for management and control, funding, competence accumulation and development.

Different research infrastructures require different management

We give grants to research infrastructures via our calls, amounting to as much as 50 per cent of the total budget. Large research infrastructures, such as SNIC and MAX IV, may require a greater collaboration effort on funding. Additional partners are then involved.

Sometimes we identify an international research infrastructure that we would like to enable researchers at Swedish HEIs to use. In such cases, we (or the Government) must first negotiate so that we can obtain a Swedish membership. After that, we fund the membership.

For some international research infrastructures, the Government decides to apply for Swedish membership based on a recommendation from us. Afterwards, we serve as the funding body for the membership, using either earmarked funds for the specific research infrastructure or from our own budget for research infrastructures.

We operate our own research infrastructure

We also operate our own national research infrastructure:

  • Sunet is a research infrastructure that operates, maintains and develops the Swedish university data network. Sunet also offers a variety of web services for research IT and education. Read more about sunet.se.
  • Research infrastructures for register-based research: Registerforskning.se and Register Utiliser Tool, RUT, facilitate the use of register data in research. The metadata tool, RUT, is currently under development. Read more about registerforskning.se.
  • Clinical Studies Sweden is a national collaboration where each of Sweden’s six healthcare regions have appointed a regional node to represent it. The aim is to support and develop the prerequisites for carrying out high-quality clinical studies in Sweden. Read more at kliniskastudier.seexternal link.

Collaboration within research infrastructure

The Swedish Research Council is a member of a number of international research infrastructures (Cern, EMBL, ESRF and others), which thereby become accessible to researchers in Sweden.

List of research infrastructure that we found

We are also a member of international organisations and networks that coordinate research connected to research infrastructures. Our membership fees to international organisations contribute to the operation and construction of the infrastructure.

We also provide grants in-kind. This means that Swedish higher education institutions and other research institutions develop and supply instruments or equipment to the research infrastructure. To certain international research infrastructures, we contribute a Swedish node.

We are responsible for some major research collaborations where Swedish researchers can participate through joint calls with other countries.

Questions about the financing of research infrastructure

infrastruktur@vr.se

Contact

Questions about the financing of research infrastructure

infrastruktur@vr.se

MORE WITHIN THE SAME SUBJECT AREA

  1. Apply for funding for collaboration with neutron scientists in Japan

    The Swedish Research Council has decided to fund a new mobility programme focusing on neutron research and activities related to the the European Spallation Source ESS and the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex J-PARC.

  2. Swedish Research Council is taking part in the building of one of the world’s largest and fastest supercomputers

    The Swedish Research Council is part of a consortium together with Finland and six other countries that will now be building one of the world’s largest and fastest supercomputers.