In April 2009, the Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Analysis (Growth Analysis) was commission by the Swedish Government to submit a proposal on how the foreign offices that the agency is responsible for could be developed. The background of this assignment was in part that the Government in a number of legislative bills and inquiries pointed out that a well-developed international presence is important to Swedish growth and research policy. The function of the foreign offices also needed to be revised, considering that they were transferred to a new authority, Growth Analysis, in 2009. This report constitutes Growth Analysis’ reporting on the assignment.
Work on the inquiry was conducted interactively with the cooperation authorities that are currently involved and finance the activities, the Government Offices and other actors affected by the proposals made (universities, research financiers, etc.). In addition, interviews with organisations and Swedish actors abroad were held in order to obtain better insight into how other countries monitor growth policy developments in the world and how the promotion work is organised. In the examination work, it was important to listen to the points of view and clarify the need that various actors have for a foreign growth policy presence. The most important conclusions in the inquiry are presented below.
In both inquiries and in legislative bills, it has been confirmed multiple times in recent years that Sweden has considerable need for a well-developed foreign presence in growth policy matters that builds on contacts and knowledge that cannot be captured remotely. A well-developed foreign presence is considered to be important in economic, innovation, research and promotion issues. Many inquiries found that experience from the foreign activities for which the Swedish Institute for Growth Policy Studies (ITPS) was responsible provides a good basis on which to build further.
In the customer studies and evaluations of the earlier foreign activities, many were satisfied with the activities at the same time that there were a number of areas of improvement, including a higher degree of customer-focus, greater interaction between offices abroad and in Sweden, and more long-term financing. In the interviews conducted in connection with the inquiry, a number of important needs were identified that the future foreign activities should meet: the work needs to be more closely linked to the strategic work in other authorities, international networking will become even more important, and the growth policy authorities will need support to develop long-term cooperative relationships with other countries in the future.
Today, foreign activities are carried out to a high degree in cooperation with authorities and economic policy actors and the area of the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communication, and interest has grown, mainly from the Ministry of Education and Research, but also from the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and the Ministry of the Environment. The broadened utilisation of the activities shows that growth policy today concerns a growing number of issues in pace with research, innovation, healthcare, environmental expertise, etc. being viewed as important areas for Sweden’s international competitiveness.
The following provides a brief description of the proposals made in the inquiry with regard to a new structure for the future foreign activities.
International presence for stronger competitiveness and growth – Proposal on emphasis of future foreign activities