The government must act quickly and take the necessary steps towards a nationally coordinated e-infrastructure, or else risk weakening Swedish research and innovation. That is the subject of a debate article written by Chalmers President Stefan Bengtsson.
For many years, Chalmers has carried out research at a world-class level. Many other Swedish universities operate at this high level, and there are intensive collaborations taking place across all sorts of different research projects. Digitalisation has made collaboration and joint projects easier, but in Sweden the development of digital infrastructure, or e-infrastructure, allowing universities and industrial partners to work effectively, has been lacking.
What is missing? In practical terms, a coordinated investment in optimised digital tools for tasks such as data transfer, large-scale calculations, analysis, storage and open access to research data for reuse and investigation. To a certain extent, these functions are already available for universities, but through individual actors – broad collaboration and a national strategy are absent. This results in inefficient resource usage and worse conditions for research.
Large investments in research-connected e-infrastructure are currently underway throughout Europe. Sweden needs a united voice in this international context, and an investment that meets the ambitions we see on the continent.
A digital infrastructure for research is, in short, a key requirement for continued successful research at Chalmers and other universities around the country, and consequently, Swedish competitiveness and innovation. The question is already on the government agenda, with the results of an investigation carried out by special government investigator Tobias Krantz
presented in August 2021.
But in that report, several legal matters are raised to be investigated, which ultimately will lead to delays and a longer timetable. What we at Chalmers and other research-heavy universities need now is action. A new ministry, with an overall responsibility for Swedish e-infrastructure. This decision should be taken as soon as possible.
Together with other leaders of Swedish universities, I am encouraging the government to act in a debate article in Ny Teknik
(Swedish only). I urge you to read it. This is about the future of Swedish research.
Stefan Bengtsson, President and CEO, Chalmers University of Technology
Photos: Anna-Lena Lundqvist
Illustration: Yen Strandqvist