Decision process for new Swelife investments
Swelife activities are conducted largely through projects. The projects are mainly financed through calls for proposals.
Swelife offers financial support for projects that help achieve our long-term goals. The support comes in two forms: innovation projects and strategic projects.
Swelife offers co-financing for innovation projects that
- promote good health
- have a high innovation potential
- will be conducted by Life Science stakeholders from at least two different sectors in collaboration.
As of December 2018, Swelife and Medtech4Health are conducting a major joint venture in the form of the joint call Collaboration Project for Better Health. The call for proposals is planned to be issued twice a year and replaces previous calls. The aim is that having one major recurring call for proposals will make it easier for prospective applicants as they will no longer have to choose between calls for their applications. More information on the processing of applications is available below.
In order for broad calls for proposals to have the desired effect, especially now that the grant size is as high as SEK 3 million, it requires a process that clearly ensures the project’s progress. Project follow-up and evaluation is therefore performed by both Vinnova and Swelife.
The activities carried out within the scope of the project shall drive and move the project forward but also allow for pivoting if necessary. To pivot means to redo and adjust one’s business model based on changing circumstances and is common for startup companies. Trying and failing forces you to think again in order to come up with a new and better business model.
Strategic projects (or individual projects) are not-for-profit or non-commercial projects that primarily contribute to new working methods and/or improved research and development opportunities for many parties.
Project initiation process
- Needs inventory. Proposal for focus areas based on identified and prioritised needs. In many cases, this is an iterative process between various potential users, the programme office, the governing board, Vinnova and the Life Science office, among others.
- Strategic areas are identified and prioritised by the governing board in accordance with Swelife’s impact evidence and the programme budget. The board defines the goals and desired outcomes of the investment.
- Design. The Swelife programme office – together with Vinnova – determines the specific forms of the investment (call for proposals or individual project). Swelife’s presiding committee conducts a final review of the preparations in order to ensure compliance with the board’s frameworks and guidelines.
Framework (in Swedish, pdf)
Stakeholders who can help solve the needs are informed and mobilised, and potential users are involved from the start to ensure implementation and the realisation of benefits.
- Assessment. The project constellation submits a formal project application through the Vinnova portal. In accordance with Vinnova’s standard processes, an assessment is made by appointed external assessors, after which Vinnova decides which projects to finance. More information on the processing of applications is available below.
- Benefit. During and after the project, regular reporting to Vinnova and Swelife’s programme office is conducted for the purpose of following up and evaluating the project’s progress and results. If necessary, a group of potential users is involved as a control or reference group for the project, in order to stay updated and be ready to receive the results.
Swelife’s decision process
All applications are processed by Vinnova, in accordance with Vinnova’s standard call for applications procedure:
- The call for applications opens in Vinnova’s portal
- All applications are submitted through Vinnova’s portal.
- The first step once an open call has closed is to weed out any applications that contain procedural errors. Such errors include submitting more appendices than requested, lacking co-financing (when required) or similar.
- The applications are subsequently distributed to external assessors (more information below).
- After the assessment process is complete, Vinnova decides which projects to finance.
- Vinnova then sends a message to all applicants, and informs the Swelife programme management of its decision.
- Once the information is public, Swelife publishes the news and welcomes the projects.
External assessors ensure quality
Each application is assessed in accordance with Vinnova’s standard procedure, normally by four assessors, one of which is from Vinnova and three are external. The external assessors are approached and selected based on their expertise and experience. The aim is that the composition of the assessment group is representative on the basis of:
- the triple helix (academia, industry, public sector)
- regional affiliation
- gender equality
Decisions concerning the assessors are taken by Vinnova. The assessment meetings and decisions are part of Vinnova’s call for applications procedure. Every external assessor signs an agreement with Vinnova – a standard mandate that regulates the job description, remuneration, conflict of interest and confidentiality.
The basic principle is that every application is assessed by at least one person with clinical, industrial or academic expertise as well as experience. Their specialist knowledge is linked to the relevant application, as far as possible. The assessment work is subsequently performed by the respective assessors in Vinnova’s digital portal, which includes all applications that meet the requirements.
An assessor can only see and access the applications assigned to them, and they cannot see what other assessors have written until after the assessment deadline when the system is locked for further comments. Each application is then discussed together with all the assessors at an assessment meeting and subsequently ranked based on the criteria laid down in the call for applications. Some of the projects considered eligible for financing are called to a supplementary interview, after which a decision on financing is taken based on both the written application received and, when relevant, the interview.