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Sweden's innovative innovation agency speaks to CORDIS News

Sweden's new agency for innovation systems, Vinnova, is bringing together scientists, industry, society and political representatives, the agency's director Per Eriksson told CORDIS News. Representatives from each of these groups come together to form a committee which makes ...

Sweden's new agency for innovation systems, Vinnova, is bringing together scientists, industry, society and political representatives, the agency's director Per Eriksson told CORDIS News. Representatives from each of these groups come together to form a committee which makes proposals concerning the agency's programmes. The establishment of this committee has already resulted in a change to the programmes compared with those of Vinnova's predecessor, claimed Mr Eriksson. Vinnova's main roles are to finance research, development and demonstration activities that meet the needs of the business and public sectors, to foster cooperation between universities, industrial research institutes and business, to promote the diffusion of information and knowledge, especially to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), to stimulate increased Swedish participation in the EU's R&D programmes and to develop the role of research institutes in innovation systems. Mr Eriksson added to this that the agency finances industry oriented relevant research in order to promote growth, but sustainable growth. Vinnova seeks to combine research with society's needs. The agency was created following investigations which pointed to the importance of understanding innovations systems, Mr Eriksson told CORDIS News. The innovation agency was intended to highlight the connection between research and growth. Vinnova tries specifically to support hi-tech SMEs, although Mr Eriksson stressed that low tech SMEs are also supported, but in conjunction with another agency. The agency also helps SMEs to participate in EU projects and to establish contacts with universities and research institutes, whilst at the same time encouraging research institutes to cooperate with SMEs. Mr Eriksson noted that the relationship between academia and industry is 'quite good' and 'getting better and better'. This is largely due to relatively recent legislation which obliges universities not only to educate and carry out research, but to cooperate with their surrounding environment, he said. He believes that this has forced universities to improve their contacts with industry, although he added that 'there is still al lot of things to be done'. Mr Eriksson rated the EU funds as fairly important and then added that technology transfer has happened faster with the aid of the EU programmes than it would have done without. He added however that he does not like the term 'technology transfer' as technology is not passed on by people working together and moving between academia and industry. Vinnova's plans for the future include the promotion of innovations systems in the regions and the combining of different areas in one programme, for example biotechnology and information technology.