The selection of prioritised research areas has evolved from the work and thematic discussions that started in 2022 based on a Government proposition to allocate research funding to all higher education institutions based of specific profile areas. The Government has since changed its mind, but Umeå University has used this momentum to develop strategic work on strengthening research quality and competitiveness on a long-term scale.
"To continue to be a leading research university, we must have an active, strategic work aimed at renewing and supporting the development of our research to allow results to benefit society in the long term. Based on the extensive process that was carried out to discuss potential profile areas, three promising, prioritised research areas have now been identified," says Vice-Chancellor Hans Adolfsson.
So far, the three prioritised areas go under these English tentative working titles:
- Learning and brain plasticity throughout the life span.
- Mastering microbial infections.
- Plant science for a sustainable green transformation of the Subarctic.
The criteria to select priorities research areas are: research quality, subject breadth, potential to develop, and something that is characteristic for Umeå University or this region. The starting point were the 24 proposals that were suggested in the thematic discussions carried out by university researchers.
"The chosen areas currently already indicate good scientific development that aids society. This means that the basic prerequisites for reaching the next level and developing even further are already there or can be achieved in several parts of our university," says Hans Adolfsson.
Altogether, SEK 52.5 million has been set aside for the prioritised research areas for the period 2024–2029. The next step is for researchers to develop specific plans for what their prioritised research area will need to develop further. They will also produce names and descriptions in Swedish and English. This autumn, the budget, operational plan and organisational positioning for the investment will be determined.
Beside funding for the three prioritised research areas, the University Management has also set aside SEK 1 million for 2023–2024 to support development work and collaborations that in time can lead to further research areas.
"We don't want this to be seen as a one-off investment. It is rather setting a standard. We will repeat this process through continued strategic discussions with researchers on setting up additional prioritised research areas in the future," says Hans Adolfsson.