Wednesday I attended the yearly meeting for the Wallenberg Foundations’ “huvudmannaråd” – a council with the rectors of ten universities and preses or secretaries from five academies. The Wallenberg Foundations’ contribution to Swedish research is most impressive and critical for Swedish research with their investments in individual projects and individual scientists (Fellows and Scholars) as well as in specific areas, such as molecular medicine, research in proteins and biopharmaceuticals and infrastructure.
Infrastructure investments call for cooperation
Among the important topics that were discussed, was the low fraction of female principal investigators, PI:s, in the project applications submitted from the universities. This is something that we need to take seriously and have an open and creative discussion about before the next round of applications.
Integration was another topic that we discussed. Facilitating integration of newly arrived persons in Sweden is an area where Karolinska Institutet can contribute, for instance by providing education and training to those with a medical or health care background. This way they get a greater chance of getting a job in the health care sector.
Finally, we discussed research infrastructure, an increasingly expensive and important platform for research where cooperation between the universities and actors such as the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet, VR) and the Wallenberg Foundations is critical. The VR reference group for infrastructure, which includes representatives from universities (I presently represent KI in this group), has during the last year worked hard to prioritize national needs for infrastructure for the next version of VR’s Guide for Infrastructure. Hopefully the guide can serve further cooperation and consolidation that is so much needed. For example we discussed the need for coordinated steering of national platforms that are supported from multiple actors such as the Wallenberg Foundations, VR, SciLifeLab and universities. The Wallenberg Foundations are very open to dialogue with the sector – this is very important and highly appreciated!
Vital discussion with KI heads of departments
From Thursday lunch to Friday lunch we had a retreat with heads of departments, deans, heads of sections of the university administration and the university leadership. We focused on how we should continue our way forward and learn from the past. Status reports were given and discussed on the “Fenix” project, aimed to restore our stakeholders’ confidence in KI and on a comprehensive quality system, a platform for continuous improvements. These projects will later be more broadly communicated.
We also discussed Strategy 2018 with its four focus areas. In respect to the first, employees, we discussed academic recruitment and career, particularly in the interface between the university and the hospital but also how recruitments are aligned with the needs of the study programmes. Included in this focus area is leadership. Available KI leadership training was presented and discussed. It is clear that KI needs both a basic platform for leadership training, but also a repertoire of individual training. Two other focus areas in our strategy are infrastructure and funding and these two are of course related. We discussed the financial challenges that are associated with our current investments that will give us new venues for research, education and collaboration to support our vision to significantly contribute to the improvement of human health.
My impression was that the retreat was held in a very positive and creative atmosphere which holds good promise for the future!