The programme Strategic vehicle research and innovation (FFI) is a collaboration between the state and the automotive industry that funds vehicle-related project focusing on climate, environment and safety. Since its launch in 2009, the programme has funded research for SEK 10 billion, distributed over just over 1,000 projects.
FFI has now undergone an impact evaluation, focusing on the grant investment to make the automotive industry more competitive and create safer and more energy efficient vehicles with less emissions.
- Above all, the evaluation shows that a long-term collaboration effort on vehicle-related research and development has been relevant and has had important effects such as strengthening competitiveness and vital competence supply. The decisive factor for the success has been great commitment from the players, especially the industry of course, but also from academia and the authorities, says Darja Isaksson, director general of Vinnova.
- It is important now to explore how FFI can continue to be an actor-driven and fast-moving effort that continues to generate collaborations, increased competence and knowledge as well as strong research and development activities in Sweden, says Darja Isaksson.
The evaluation, carried out by Ramboll, forms the basis for the Board's decision on future orientation and control of the program.
Some of the conclusions of the evaluation:
Strengthened competitiveness and relevance in the automotive industry
FFI's focus on technology development projects involving the vehicle itself has led to solutions that have reached the market and been able to be commercialised, thereby contributing to the competitiveness of the automotive industry. The program's focus on climate, environment and road safety has proven relevant in view of upcoming regulatory requirements and global trends for the automotive industry. In a broader mix, the program, together with political instruments, regulations and infrastructure investments, also played a role in striving for Sweden's transport objective.
Volvo Groups electric buses, Scania hybrid buses and autonomous vehicles as well as Volvo Cars's more efficient internal combustion engines and new road safety solutions are all examples of developments within FFI's technology areas that have led to innovation effects and increased competitiveness. The evaluation assesses that FFI has had a direct impact on this.
In-depth collaboration and increased consensus
More than 500 organisations have participated in completed project and FFI's most relevant grant has been to enable deepening of existing networks. For example, research collaboration between vehicle manufacturers is considerably more developed today than it was ten years ago, thanks in large part to FFI and great commitment from industry. The results of these collaborations have in many cases been crucial in reducing the uncertainty about the potential different technologies. A consequence has also been a positive impact on Sweden's attractiveness for vehicle-related R&D.
The investment has also led to a consensus on vehicle-related efforts between academia, companies, institutes and authorities. The individual projects have been needs-motivated and formulated from an industry perspective. At the same time, the focus of the projects is in line with both strategic development areas within the academy and with the authorities' roadmaps for the overall project portfolio.
Increased competence, knowledge and scientific quality
More than 300 doctoral students have completed or are currently conducting research studies via FFI. Almost everyone states that their studies had not begun and / or ended without that funding. In addition to being a relatively large addition of researcher-trained competence to Swedish industry and academia, the development of competence has led to cumulative accumulation of knowledge in the program's technical areas. More than 550 project within FFI state that their results have been passed on to new technical project. The project managers within FFI, who primarily work in the industry, have experienced considerable professional skills development. The supply of expertise has in turn contributed positively to the industry's ability to initiate and implement research projects.
FFI project has so far resulted in approximately 650 publications in scientific journals. The research has an average high level and has been quoted more than the typical publication in the same research area.
Facts about the Vehicle Strategic research and Innovation (FFI) program
FFI is a collaboration between the state and the automotive industry that finances research, innovation and development with a focus on climate, environment and safety.
The program finances research and development activities for approximately SEK 1 billion per year. State funding accounts for half of this. This cooperation is important as the development in road transport and the Swedish automotive industry is of great importance for sustainable transition in Sweden.
FFI's overall objective is to:
- Reduce the environmental impact of road transport
- Reduce the number of injured and killed in traffic
- Strengthen international competitiveness
In the program, the Swedish Energy Agency, the Swedish Transport Administration and Vinnova work together as representatives of the state and Volvo Group, Volvo Cars, Scania and the Vehicle Components Group as representatives of the industry.
FFI is based on previous vehicle research programs where the state and industry have been collaborating since the early 1990s.