The 2013 Budget Bill identify five areas as focus of the investments:
• Life sciences
• Strengthened basic funding for universities and other higher education institutions
• Frontier research
• Research facilities
• Research results to lead to new products and services
Researcher-initiated research of high quality at universities and other higher education institutions will be strengthened to create better conditions for pioneering research that has the potential of leading to breakthroughs. The Government is thus focusing on areas with strong research, such as life sciences.
In the latest policy bill "A Boost to Research and Innovation" Prop. 2008/09:50, three strategic areas are mentioned: medicine, technology and climate. According to the bill these areas will be allocated €50m (SEK500m) in year 2009 and should in year 2012 receive €180m (SEK1.8b). These areas were selected using three guiding criteria: research that can help to find solutions to important global problems and challenges; areas in which Sweden is already conducting world-class research; areas where companies in Sweden are already conducting research and development.
Examples of research areas that are to receive more support in this regard are the fight against major diseases that affect large sections of the population, such as Alzheimer's and cancer; new communications solutions in the intersection between mobile broadband and IT; new energy solutions for reduced carbon dioxide emissions; greater energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. Also research in humanities and social sciences will receive higher appropriations.
The policy instruments geared towards these areas include the creation of new international competitive research environments where industry, higher education institutions, public authorities, and research institutes are encouraged to collaborate.
The main actors in the Swedish support system for innovative starts-ups and entrepreneurship are: the Innovation Bridge, VINNOVA, the Industrial Fund, the University holding companies, the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth and ALMI Business Partner (Trendchart, 2008). Innovationsbron AB and Almi Företagspartner AB will from January 1st 2013 merge into one organisation. This change is expected to create a more effective organisation providing information and financial support for improving innovation capacities in national and regional SMEs.
These actors provide venture capital and advice, at different stages in the innovation process, and provide incubator functions (the Innovation Bridge). Examples of programmes launched by these agencies include: “VINN Verification”, offering the possibility to conduct a more comprehensive commercial and technical verification and validation of research results with commercial potential. The programme is jointly run by VINNOVA and the Innovation Bridge. “VINN NU” is a competition also organised by VINNOVA with the aim to make it easier for new R&D based firms to prepare and clarify commercially interesting projects at an early stage so that they can apply for further funding.
VINNOVA’s programme “Research & Grow”, launched in 2005, aims at stimulating greater R&D investment in R&D performing firms and also attracting R&D-performing firms from abroad. This programme is targeting SMEs, and aims at funding their needs-driven R&D projects. The background is that 80% of private R&D is performed by large companies while 98% of all Swedish companies are SMEs. This calls for Route 2 policies to specifically target SMEs.
In Sweden, the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth is responsible for supporting entrepreneurship, start-ups and the development of SMEs. The agency has a wide range of measures at its disposal, which target entrepreneurship and SMEs, whereof only a few of them explicitly target firms that do not yet perform R&D. One example of this is the “Product Development in Small Companies” programme which offers direct support to business R&D through grants and loans (Trendchart, 2008).
Policy instruments in place favouring attracting R&D-performing firms from abroad mainly focus on keeping a strong performance in terms of knowledge and innovation creation. The main policy instruments are the centre of excellence programmes and the support of strong regional innovation milieus. Since 2005, a number of centres of excellence have been implemented, e.g. the so-called “VINN Excellence” programme, “Berzelii Centres”, “Institute Excellence Centres” programme and “Industry Excellence” programme. Common for these programmes is the aim to build bridges between academia and industry by creating excellent academic research environments in which industrial companies actively participate. The “Linnaeus Grant”, jointly announced by the VR and FORMAS in 2005, is supporting strong basic-research environments at universities.