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What is SFO?

Strategic research areas, SFO, are a strategic effort on selected research areas made by the Swedish government.

43 research environments are financed from 2010 through 2014. The funding of 20 areas within Sweden´s higher education institutions, represent an increased funding level for a 5-year period and reached 1.35 billion Swedish kronor (SEK) in 2012. During the period, SEK 748 million will be earmarked for infrastructures within the framework of strategic investments, i.e. SEK 184 million annually from 2012.

In 2009 the Swedish Research Council, FAS (Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research), Formas (Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences, and Spatial Planning), VINNOVA (Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems), and the Swedish Energy Agency submitted recommendations on financing the 20 strategic research areas that the Swedish Government designated in the Government Bill on Research Policy.

The funds will be allocated directly to the higher education institutions (HEI). The Government followed the agencies´ recommendations and decided to allocate research funding in the autumn budget, presented in September.


The Government used three criteria in prioritising the strategic areas:

- research that, in the long term, has the prerequisites to be of the highest international quality
- research that can contribute towards fulfilling major needs and solving important problems in society
- research in areas that have a connection with the Swedish business sector.

The importance of Epidemiology

One of the funded strategisc areas was that of Epidemiology

In this project, researchers from different departments at Karolinska Institutet are striving to improve the opportunities for epidemiological research. We plan to do this by, e.g. bringing together biobanks, findings from major population studies, computerised patient data systems, and prescription registers. We will survey the causes and risk factors underlying various diseases. We will study what can be done to prevent disease and will also assess different treatment methods retrospectively.