SEK 3.7 billion funding for life science – Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation launches a new research initiative

Press release
20 October 2020

The initiative spans basic research in fields such as new therapeutics, epidemiology and infection biology, precision medicine and diagnostics, evolution and biodiversity, as well as cell and molecular biology. These fields are central to efforts to improve human quality of life and wellbeing, and also to safeguard biodiversity and create sustainability.

“This is a massive, long-term initiative, aimed at placing Sweden among the world-leaders in the field, thereby contributing to a better quality of life for people, animals and nature,” says Peter Wallenberg Jr, Chair of Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

The life science initiative consists of two parts, where one part is a completely new national investment in computer-driven life science with SEK 3.1 billion over twelve years. The second part is an extension with SEK 600 million, of current support to the national research infrastructure SciLifeLab and to WCMM, Wallenberg Center for Molecular Medicine at the University of Gothenburg, Lund, Linköping and Umeå.

“The program builds on the Foundation’s previous life science initiatives and the interface now being created with the expertise established in mathematics, data and AI thanks to the Foundation’s support for autonomous systems, software and AI, as well as quantum technology via the WASP and WACQT programs,” Wallenberg Jr adds.

“The rapid technical developments made in life science, combined with innovations in data-processing and AI, will play an increasingly important role in research and development, and will impact virtually all fields in medicine and natural sciences. This is particularly important to ensure a better preparedness against future pandemics, where collection and analysis of large quantities of biological and medical data are indispensable in monitoring the spread of disease, and to give politicians and public agencies advice based on scientific knowledge,” says Siv Andersson, Head of Basic Research at Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

The initiative gives priority to four areas – data-driven research in:

  • cell and molecular biological 
  • evolution and biodiversity
  • precision medicine and diagnostics
  • epidemiology and infection biology

Many new research positions

“The aim of the program is to build broad expertise throughout the country to ensure we meet the future need for researchers in data-driven life science, both in the academic world and in industry. The overall plan is to recruit 39 internationally pre-eminent researchers, establish a graduate school for 260 PhD students in academia and industry, and create 210 postdoctoral positions. As part of the initiative a new type of position will be introduced: “industry-sponsored postdoc”, which will give 45 researchers who have recently received their PhD the opportunity to combine research in academia and industry,” Andersson adds.

The host for the program, which runs until 2032, is SciLifeLab in collaboration with the Wallenberg Centers for Molecular Medicine at the Universities of Gothenburg, Lund, Linköping and Umeå, along with the Swedish research universities.

For many years, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation has supported Sweden’s development into a leading life science nation through a wide diversity of initiatives. All in all, the Foundation will have allocated just over SEK 6.2 billion to research in life sciences during the period 2015–2032. 

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Peter Wallenberg Jr, Chair, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
+46 (0)8 545 01780
[email protected]

Professor Siv Andersson
Head of Basic Research, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
Tel: +46 (0)70 298 3848
[email protected]

Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation was established in 1917. The Foundation’s aim is to the benefit Sweden by supporting Swedish basic research and education, primarily in medicine, technology and the natural sciences. This is achieved by awarding grants to pre-eminent researchers and projects.

Just over SEK 29 billion in grants has been awarded since the Foundation was established, with annual funding of almost SEK 2 billion being awarded to pre-eminent research and education in recent years, making the Foundation Sweden’s largest private research funding body, and one of the largest in Europe.