A message from STINT’s Executive Director

October, 2020

We are delighted that Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna were awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry, particularly since STINT funded their research partnership in an early phase, when Charpentier worked at Umeå University. Their collaboration is an excellent example of the direct link between research quality, international collaboration, and researcher mobility.

Researcher mobility and international recruitment of talent are important to Swedish research, and Swedish higher education institutions need to be attractive enough to retain the talented researchers who have moved to Sweden. Studies show that the work of researchers born abroad has greater impact than that of researchers working in their home countries.

Sylvia Schwaag Serger, Chair of STINT’s Board of Directors, and I recently had an online discussion with Caroline Wagner, a science and policy researcher at The Ohio State University, on the rapidly changing geopolitical landscape and the challenges posed to the internationalisation of research and higher education. Wagner compared coronavirus-related publications in the two years before December 2019 with peer-reviewed articles on the same topic posted between January and April 2020 and discovered that, measured in the number of authors per article, research teams have become slightly smaller and involve fewer countries. The number of articles co-authored between China and other scientifically dominant nations has increased, while the participation of developing countries has decreased. Wagner says that researchers collaborate with whom they already have strong, well-established connections. If existing collaborations with researchers in developing countries falter, new partnerships risk being even more difficult to establish, also in other areas. The majority of new collaborations start with face-to-face meetings. If people are unable to work side-by-side for short periods, international partnerships will dramatically decline, Wagner argues. It is vital that students and researchers understand and have experience of the cultural contexts of different countries.

To encourage balanced collaborations with African nations in research and/or higher education, STINT is launching a regional call for Africa – Initiation Grants, co-funded by the Swedish Research Council.

Applications can also be submitted for our usual Initiation Grants to fund partnerships with higher education institutions and research environments throughout the world, but outside the EU/EFTA.

Our website provides information on how we handle extensions of granted projects and delayed project starts due to the current covid-19 situation.

Finally, I want to alert readers to two recently launched reports: one on Chinese research funding and another on research related to the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Andreas Göthenberg