Better use of high-quality laboratory infrastructure

22 February 2022

Woman standing in the laboratory looking at a big machine.

There is a great need to open up and coordinate the major assets that exist in the field of laboratory infrastructure in Sweden.

A new collaborative project will develop models for making laboratory infrastructures available so that academia and other actors can make better use of research and development resources. Uppsala University is leading the SESAM project, a national initiative involving most of Sweden’s higher education institutions (HEIs) and research institutions.

Good access to first-rate research infrastructure is required to conduct world-class research. Depending on the focus of the research, this may involve different types of infrastructure, such as experimental equipment, databases, libraries, collections and biobanks. Uppsala University hosts several national and international research infrastructures, such as the Science for life Laboratory (SciLifeLab), Biobank Sweden and Alvin (digitised cultural heritage material). 

Making laboratory infrastructures available

Cecilia Nilsson, Project Manager of SESAM,
Uppsala University Innovation Partnership Office.
Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

SESAM is a newly launched collaborative project specifically focused on laboratory-based infrastructure for materials science, engineering and life sciences. The project is led by the Uppsala University Innovation Partnership Office and is coordinated together with Stockholm University, Lund University and RISE Research Institutes of Sweden. The aim is to make Sweden’s high-quality laboratory infrastructures available and to facilitate their use by actors outside the host organisation.

“There is a great need to clearly specifically what applies and thereby make it easier for academia to open up the use of laboratory infrastructures within academia. This involves issues ranging from pricing to pure working environment issues,” says Cecilia Nilsson, Project Manager of SESAM, Uppsala University Innovation Partnership Office.

National mapping

The project will start by mapping the existing open laboratory infrastructures available in Swedish universities and research institutes. There is a very large variation in the conditions here. They range from laboratory infrastructure developed primarily for basic research and sometimes also used in clinical activities to test beds used for purposes such as verifying prototypes or developing pilot production. Regardless of size or focus, there is a need for common practices in the use of infrastructures.

“An important part of the project relates to laying the foundation for robust and transparent decision-making processes. For example, on what basis different types of projects should be prioritised for access to the infrastructures,” says Cecilia Nilsson.

Handling confidentiality issues

Another issue is secrecy and confidentiality. Universities must comply with the rules on transparency that govern government activities. But companies and individual organisations conducting research and development often need confidential results.

“This is a matter of finding best practice. The aim of the project is to develop a practice with recommendations on how issues such as confidentiality and intellectual property rights should be handled,” says Cecilia Nilsson.

Many competencies needed

In addition to the four project partners, most of Sweden’s HEIs and research institutes are involved in the collaborative project. The project is broad and touches on several complex challenges, which means that many different competencies are needed.

“The project is staffed by lawyers, people with expertise in cooperation between public authorities and industry, experts in infrastructure issues at higher education institutions, and communications officers, to give a few examples,” explains Cecilia Nilsson.

SESAM was launched in February this year and will run until 2024.

Facts about SESAM

SESAM (SvEnsk SAMverkan för tillgång till labbinfrastruktur [Swedish Collaboration for Access to Lab Infrastructure]) is a collaborative project led by the Uppsala University Innovation Partnership Office and coordinated together with Stockholm University, Lund University and RISE Research Institutes of Sweden. The project’s vision is to bring together HEIs and research institutes in Sweden with open laboratory infrastructure for research around a unified, legally compliant and functional practice for their availability. The aim is to develop a practice with recommendations on the use of laboratory infrastructures. The project is funded by Vinnova and has been granted almost SEK nine million.

Last modified: 2021-02-14