Strong research and educational environments

The Knowledge Foundation seeks to support the development of strong research and education environments that create value for academia, the business sector and society. In different ways, all the Knowledge Foundation’s programmes are aimed at enabling environments to establish and maintain a strong, long-term, national and international scientific or artistic position which also contributes to the profiling of the university. This enables the environment to also become a valuable long-term partner for the business sector.

What we mean by strong environments

In the view of the Knowledge Foundation, a strong environment is one that has the capacity to develop its research and education in collaboration with the business sector and takes a long-term, strategic approach to its development. While this is fundamental to our KK-miljö programme, many of the projects we fund are also found in environments that are under development, having embarked on a journey towards becoming stronger environments.

The environment might start out as a research group, then developing into a larger entity such as a research environment, a department, a centre or similar. We see a research and educational environment as being defined by a shared ambition to attain a scientific position and profile. The environment comprises the researchers and teachers, courses, research questions, business partners, projects, etc., all of which play a part in achieving the ambition of positioning and profiling in a selected and delimited field. How such a field is defined will have to do with the area of research and education in which the environment has the potential to position itself academically in the national and international arena.

Dynamic structure

Our programmes can be used in different ways on a journey towards building a stronger environment. An environment does not have to already be strong to obtain funding from the Knowledge Foundation, but there must be a long-term ambition for it to become stronger over time. What we want to finance is the path to getting there – with all the applications laid as paving stones along the way.

The programmes’ requirements are set in line with the specific objectives and purpose of the call for proposals, which reflect how the programme is intended to be used to develop the environment. The programmes serve as tools for addressing challenges such as profiling, internationalisation, renewal, or provision of competence needs in the business sector.

Some examples

The Hög programme funds research projects and can be used by groups in the building up-phase looking to strengthen their research in co-production with the business sector. Such groups may also need capacity reinforcement, as offered by the Rekrytering programme, where funding for example is available for adjunct professors from the business sector. The Forskningsprofiler programme is geared towards more established environments and provides an opportunity for universities to profile and position their research in a selected area in the longer term. More established environments are also able to apply to the Hög programme to renew their research. Environments at different stages can also apply for funding for educational activities, through the Avans programme, for example, enabling them to work with companies to develop degree programmes at second cycle level that address competence needs in the business sector.

Research and educational environments are dynamic, and interaction between different organisational levels is necessary depending on the activity in focus. For example, degree programmes will often span a broader organisational entity than research projects. Therefore, it is important that the shared ambition for the environment is supported by all the units involved within the university, including the management of the department or university. The environment must be prioritised by the management of the university. if it is to become a profile area for the university. Prioritisation and a shared, embedded ambition are crucial to establishing a strong scientific position and profile with high business sector and societal relevance with the help of our programmes.

Assessing strong research and educational environments

The Knowledge Foundation does not assess whether or not an environment is strong; instead the focus is on the potential contribution of the project to the development of that environment, the shared ambition and how the project contributes to the whole. Applicants must describe this, relating it to the purpose and objective of the programme. Applicants must place the project in a context and describe the current situation of the environment and the ambition and the role of the project in its envisaged development. The assessment panel will assess the contribution of the project applied to the development of the environment, the amount of value the project will add to the development of the environment in the short and long term and how the project will move the environment further on its journey towards becoming a stronger environment. The call for proposals will contain specific questions linked to the assessment criterion “strong research and educational environments” based on the objective and purpose of each programme.

A relatively small project may, for example, be assessed to have a very high impact on an environment that is in an early phase of development, while an environment that is already well-established may need other activities to further its development. Where the environment is a large one, e.g. containing several research groups, the scientific common denominator needs to be clearly defined, and the way in which the groups will work together set out.

We would encourage applicants to discuss and articulate their ambition, the type of environment they are seeking to build and the profile they want it to have. They should then think about how the Knowledge Foundation’s programmes can be a step on the road towards building a stronger research and educational environment – that is the journey we want to help fund!

The progress of strong environments (Swedish)

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