Skip to content

Modern infrastructure a necessity

Just over 15 years ago, several professor colleagues and I successfully applied for money for a mass spectrometer. It has proved to be of tremendous benefit – in this particular case, within polymer materials. This is what good research infrastructure is all about. To both stimulate and generate new and practical research results.

MALDI, Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization, has now been around for quite some time, but as with even older and in this case, local infrastructure, it can still be used in research and deliver valuable results. But for a university like KTH with experimental and high quality research and education, modern equipment and access to the very latest within infrastructure is also absolutely vital. Rapid developments within technology and knowledge make this urgent.

Having a modern research infrastructure makes KTH more attractive, not only as a place to study but also for teachers and researchers wanting to work here. What’s more, it increases the desire of national and international students to choose KTH as they know it is a place where experimental, cutting-edge research is pursued. Added to which, it is important to increase the price tag for science and technology. This is ultimately a quality issue if students at KTH are to be able to possess solid skills in experimentation when they leave us. It is this first and second cycle education payment (the science and technology price tag) that underwrites the infrastructure of education.

For the sake of Sweden’s competitiveness and innovativeness, a deliberate and perhaps in certain cases even a brave investment in infrastructure, is clearly a must.

This has long been a controversial issue, not least when it comes to financing everything from purchasing, maintenance and development – that has been batted backwards and forwards between different parties where universities have been expected to take greater financial responsibility. And while a national infrastructure can bring in rental income when used by other researchers around the country and the world – such as our PDC Center for High Performance Computing,  the basic grant has been hollowed out and opportunities for external financing reduced.

The fact that it will soon be possible to charge fees for the use of KTH research instruments offers increased scope to keep instruments updated and in good condition and at the same time, opens new avenues to cooperation within education and research.

I  look forward to what Special Commissioner Tobias Krantz intends to propose to the government at the end of May next year. He is going to take a closer look at the organisation, management and financing of our national infrastructure.

As usual, clarity is the key when it comes to the foundation for both stable and innovative operations. So I hope to see a model for our national infrastructure that revolves around know-how, needs and excellence. Which would benefit us all.