By Erik Renström and Per Mickwitz
Based on the feedback that we have got during and after the information meeting on November 12th, there seems to be a lot of discussions about the relationship between the profile areas and the already existing Strategic Research Areas (SRAs) at Lund University. We would like to clarify the relationship between the two types of research environments.
The Strategic Research Areas
In 2008, the Swedish government initiated a program with 21 strategic research areas that universities, often in consortia, applied for. In 2010, 43 Strategic Research Areas (41 are functioning today) were established, after a call based on peer reviewed applications. The aims of the SRAs are to stimulate the development of new knowledge and excellent research environments of high societal relevance, with a link to education. Lund University was very successful, it got the task to coordinate 8 SRAs and became a partner in 3 SRAs coordinated by other universities.
Today, Lund University receives about 222 MSEK yearly in funding for the SRAs, which is about 10 % of the university’s block funding for research. Almost all SRAs involve research groups from several faculties, mostly 3 or 4. About 30% of all research publications by Lund University researchers have at least one author from an SRA (2020). The publications by SRA researchers are on average more cited than other publications by Lund University researchers.
The Profile Areas
Lund University has just initiated a process of identifying profile areas. This process is based on the Swedish government’s announcement that it intends to finance profile areas at the universities. The objective of the new model is to promote high quality in research. The government has stated that it wants to promote strategic profiling and prioritisation of research with the best conditions for research of the highest international quality. A profile area is to cover research, external engagement with wider society and education in a cohesive knowledge environment of high quality. Based on the current governmental plans Lund University will have the possibility to apply for funding for five profile areas.
The connection between Strategic Research Areas and profile areas at Lund University
At Lund University we see the SRAs and the profile areas as two separate types of research environments. The profile areas will not be based on the SRAs, but at the same time the research groups that are part of the SRAs are not excluded from being involved in profiling areas.
Some clear differences between the SRAs and the profile areas at Lund university are:
Lund University is involved in 11 SRAs, but there will only be 5 profile areas.
The SRAs were formed based on applications written in 2009 on topics decided by the Swedish government in 2008. The profile areas will be decided in 2022 by Lund University, in relation to criteria decided by the government and research councils.
The SRAs are research environments with the aim to foster world-leading research, in selected areas, to the economic and societal benefit of Sweden. The profile areas will be full knowledge environments with research, external engagement with wider society and education selected by the universities.
Lund University foresees a future where both profile areas and SRAs will be visible and important research environments that will strengthen the university.