Can assigning profile areas strengthen research and education?

9 September 2022

Intense work to identify Umeå University's strong profile areas in research is ongoing, in preparation for a national funding model initiated by the Swedish Government in the 2020 government bill on research. However, working with profile areas is equally important for the strategic work to enhance research, which is necessary in terms of both quality and quantity.

This spring, four interdisciplinary thematic discussions were held based on the profile areas proposed by the organisation. The working group appointed consists of researchers from all faculties and the Umeå School of Education, which means they represent a wide span of research domains. Based on the proposals, the working group have crystallised six proposed profile areas. The working group's commitment and expertise is of great value and it is wonderful to see how they have taken on this task for the benefit of the University as a whole. Their commitment and what they are doing is very important to complete this work.

Katrine Riklund, Pro-Vice-Chancellor

Photo: Mattias Pettersson

This autumn, work is underway within the proposed profile areas to find that cutting-edge hypothesis and to specify what activities and initiatives are necessary to take research to the next level and become even more competitive. It is worth emphasising that all proposed profile areas conduct high-quality research, but by working with profile areas, we believe that the areas will reach a new, higher level of innovation, quality and impact. The partly new constellations should be a hotbed for innovative research that will strengthen education and solve the big puzzles. The profile areas must contain a high risk-high impact approach in their research to uphold the competitive edge nationally. The important work ahead is to form the profile areas that bring out the best of what Umeå University has to offer. When seeing our profile areas, people should think: "Umeå is the go-to place for that".

The final choice of what profile areas should be included in an application will take place at the end of 2022. The national application round is planned for February 2023 .

When the thematic discussions were held this spring, researchers whose paths had not yet crossed met. I strongly encourage that contacts and ideas that saw the light of day that time will continue to flourish regardless of what profile areas are allocated funding through the new model in the end. Something else to learn from is that places to meet for interdisciplinary scientific discussions can give rise to new beginnings. That is worth remembering.

The fact is that the work conducted to produce profile areas is not just important for the upcoming application, but maybe even more so from a long-term perspective as a part of the University's strategic development work. That is why I would like to emphasise that all proposals that were made are important additions to our existing research collaborations and visions of the future. They can be further developed and are of great significance. Hopefully, this exercise will provide new methods to strategically develop research and education.

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