Policy Background

The National Innovation Strategy establishes the key areas for research and development (R&D) policy to focus on and lays out a framework for research and innovation policy. It highlights key areas of interest in: health; sustainable agriculture; efficient energy; transport; and resource efficiency.

The National Reform Programme is a document that supports the innovation strategy by describing the objectives established to improve competitiveness and activities needed to achieve these objectives.

The National Infrastructure Plan 2018-2029 lays out the transport strategy in Sweden, with a focus on national cross-border transport. It includes plans for both passenger and freight infrastructure investments with the ultimate goal of providing a fossil fuel-free, integrated transport system.

Institutional framework of transport research

At the highest political level, research policy is decided by the Parliament, acting on bills prepared by the government and in particular by two ministries: the Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation. Together, they are responsible for most funding streams. The Division of Research Policy within the Ministry of Education and Research is responsible for general research policy issues and research cooperation in the EU and internationally. The Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation is responsible for matters relating to state-owned enterprises, urban development, enterprise and industrial policy, infrastructure. The Parliament and ministries are advised by the Research Policy Council (in the Ministry of Education and Research) and the Innovation Policy Council (in the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation).

Six other authorities play an important role in policy-making. The six research councils are: 

  1. The Swedish Energy Agency;
  2. The FAS, Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research;
  3. The Swedish Research Council Formas;
  4. The Swedish National Space Board;
  5. The Swedish Research Council Vetenskapsrådet; and
  6. VINNOVA.

The Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation has the main responsibility for developing transport policy which is implemented by specific agencies: the Board for Shipping Support, the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Transport Agency, and the National Public Transport Agency.

Funding for R&D is allocated in the national budget by the Swedish Government. Around half of these funds go directly to higher education institutions and the rest is allocated to researchers by government research funding bodies and other public authorities. The two main instruments for financing research in Sweden are through research grants and funding for research and development infrastructure. The largest government research funding body is the Swedish Research Council, funded by the Ministry of Education and Research. In order to achieve common goals in the innovation system, Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) coordinates research institutes through work on structural, performance and funding issues.

There are several options for funding transport research in Sweden:

  • Transport research is mainly funded through the Ministry of Education and Research and the administrations under its control.
  • Other ministries fund transport research, but on a smaller scale
  • International funding is provided by the European Union
  • Public funding is available for targeted government initiatives
  • National, semi-public funding foundations provide financial support for research on specific topics
  • There are some national and regional programmes to finance transport-related projects. For example, 'Vision Zero'

Funding Sources and Support Initiatives

The current national funding sources and strategies include:

  • Strategic Vehicle Research and Innovation (FFI) Programme - A national partnership programme run jointly by the Swedish State and the Swedish automotive industry that funds research, innovation and development with an emphasis on climate, the environment and safety. 

International research and development cooperation programmes and partnerships of the European Union relevant to Sweden are:

  • European Research Area cooperation Networks (ERA-Nets)
  • European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST)
  • Joint Programming Initiatives (JPI)
  • Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME)
  • Science Europe