This content was published in the period between 3 October 2014 and 20 January 2019

Ministers on this page who have left the Government

Between 3 October 2014 and 20 January 2019 she was Minister for Higher Education and Research.

Ministers on this page who have left the Government

Between 3 October 2014 and 20 January 2019 she was Minister for Higher Education and Research.

Speech at House of Sweden on arctic research

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Speech at at House of Sweden on arctic research, Washington D.C. 20 maj 2015
Check Against Delivery.

Thank you for inviting me to participate in this inspiring Arctic event, at the beautiful House of Sweden.

It is a great pleasure to be here at this time - when our two countries are intensifying our collaboration in the Arctic. It is an area which is becoming more and more important. I believe that we need more of scientific cooperation to tackle the climate challenge and support the Artic in the future.

Also, I wish to say that this event is very well timed now when the US is taking over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

Sweden has research agreements with the countries we have identified as key nations in science and where we together can benefit from closer cooperation. None of these agreements are as active, and important, as the one with the United States of America.

It’s no wonder this is the case - the US is the leading country in the world in most areas of science. Our science attaché back in 2001 actually made a study on US science that was suitably named “The envy of the world”.

The American scientific community has no match in the world, not only by size, but also when it comes to quality and areas where science develops most rapidly.

Twenty years ago, more than 50 percent of Swedish scientific papers were written together with American partners. Now, only a third of Swedish papers are written with USA. The total volume of our collaborations has not decreased, but our cooperation with other countries has increased - especially within Europe.

I think the same holds for the US. The US and European scientific lead is challenged. New large research nations are emerging, like China, South Korea and India. And they are increasing their scientific production very fast.

In general terms, their increased investments in science are good for the world. The more science we do globally the more knowledge is created for the next generation of citizens. We need it to overcome our great challenges. But it is also hard to remain at the top when other countries are joining us there. And I believe that we have unused opportunities for more teamwork between Swedish and American scientists.

Also, investments in science are more important now when many countries have an economic downturn and little growth. This is the time to expand our knowledge base with increased investments in higher education and in research.

Right now, our government is in the process to define our research policy for the coming decade. During the past six years research investments at our universities has increased with more than 35 percent - but the investments are not delivering the full potential outcome. My view is that we need to gather our strength strategically

And I wish to mention a few priorities that the Swedish government has identified for our new research policy:

Research needs to be viewed as a long-term activity. That is why the next research bill will include a 10-year perspective. It will make it possible for the research community and universities to act more strategically.

Basic funding to universities and colleges will have priority. The fraction of institutional funds needs to increase. It is important for the ability to invest in new projects which – even if the outcome might be uncertain – have the potential of giving rise to breakthrough scientific discoveries.
Recruitment of young scientists must be improved in order to make sure the best young talents choose to stay in science. Now, young scientists can go for years on short term employment not knowing if they will be able to get tenured. This discourages many of the best talents and that must change. This is also important for global collaboration and mobility. In this matter, we are looking into the US system - with tenure track and tenured positions as a possible model to build upon.

For Sweden to be a prominent research nation - academia needs to be more gender equal as this enables both men and women to realize their full potential. Since 1999 the number of female professors has increased from 12 to 25 %. Good, but not good enough. Therefore, we will work for an increase in the number of female professors. Also, our research funds must be awarded in an equal way.

The connection between research and higher education needs to be strengthened. This is important to raise the quality of education and to inspire the next generation of top researchers.

More priorities will come. And I believe that by the right investments in science, we can solve many of our problems and meet the climate challenge.

We will continue to build strategic alliances in science cooperation. Our most important partner is, naturally, the US.

There is no other place where the best scientists of the world can come and get such opportunities to develop their ideas. It is no wonder that American scientists are awarded the most Nobel prices. It is also noticeable that many of the laureates have their background from other countries and were once in their youth given the opportunities to settle as scientists at American universities. This shows the importance of international mobility - and of creating good working conditions for scientists.
The agreement between the US and Sweden was signed in 2006. It has been a very active cooperation during the past almost 10 years. The first two years the US embassy in Stockholm and in particular the ambassador (Michael Wood) was the main driver with the (OBT) cooperation on renewable fuels. This resulted in an important deal (between DoE and our energy agency).

At the same time, another agreement was signed between our ministry of defence and department of homeland security on security issues. Both have been very successful. In addition to those two, we have also a number of collaborations between our funding organisations. All originating from the overarching agreement.

My participation in this event is based on the discussion between or countries on a closer cooperation in Arctic research using the Swedish research vessel and ice breaker Oden. This is in good alignment with our priority on polar research.

We are increasing the funding for the polar secretariat directed at Oden so that we will be able to have yearly, or bi-annually, expeditions to the Arctic together with American scientists.

I am pleased that we now once again come together on Oden. We start with a joint expedition already in the coming summer 2015, with a follow up in 2017.

By joining forces our investments will bring us further. Funding from one of us might bring us to the Arctic ice front. But with funding from both our countries - we can spend more time doing research on location. And this matters.

In addition, the time our scientists spend together will open up opportunities to develop new projects and strengthen ties. By bringing scientists together, new unexpected science will develop.

Oden is a key to the Swedish high priority on polar research. No other vessel has this ice breaking capability together with scientific laboratories and equipment of the highest calibre. We hope it will serve us for at least another decade. But to be competitive in the long term, we must also look beyond the lifetime of Oden.

Our government will in the coming year initiate a study on the next generation polar research vessel - with the aim of having a new ship in operation from around 2030.

The outcome of the discussions during these days is one way for us to understand the need for the coming years, with Oden and beyond – and it opens up the possibility for long-term cooperation in polar research.

The first step is taken already this year with the agreement today between NSF and our Polar secretariat on a joint expedition this coming summer. Let us now continue the work together for the Arctic.


Ministers on this page who have left the Government

Between 3 October 2014 and 20 January 2019 she was Minister for Higher Education and Research.

Ministers on this page who have left the Government

Between 3 October 2014 and 20 January 2019 she was Minister for Higher Education and Research.