Annual report 2022

The Wenner-Gren Foundations (WGF) seek to promote international cooperation in the area of scientific research. To this end, WGF provide housing for visiting researchers at the Wenner-GrenCenter in Stockholm, and awards grants both to Swedish researchers who wish totravel abroad, and to visiting scientists who would like to come to Sweden. Further, WGF organize international symposia, usually located at the Wenner-Gren Center, and provides grants to external international symposia in Sweden. Travel grants are provided for young researchers to participate in conferences, workshops, and symposia. Finally, WGF provides financial supportfor foreign guest lecturers to be invited to Swedish universities and colleges. The Foundations’ administrative office is located at the Wenner-Gren Center in Stockholm.

Visiting scholars’ residences are located in Helicon, a semi-circular, three-story building in the Wenner-Gren Center and centrally located in Stockholm. In total, 156 apartments are available for visiting scientists for a maximum period of two years, and rents are subsidized via specific housing grants. In 2022, resident researchers came from 48 different nations, with India, China, Germany, and Spain best represented, in that order. The CEO of WGF hosted a special reception for guests in the banquet room at the Wenner-Gren Center, on May 9 and 10.

WGF offer a comprehensive program for international scientific exchange of researchers. After completion of their doctorate, especially promising young Swedish scientists may obtain postdoctoral fellowships for study abroad and repatriation to Sweden (Wenner-Gren Fellows). Senior Swedish researchers can apply for sabbatical grants for visits abroad. For visiting foreign scientists, young researchers from abroad may work at Swedish universities supported by postdoctoral fellowships, while senior researchers from abroad may apply for guest researcher grants.

During 2022, a total of 81scholarships were granted within the international scientific exchange program. The grants were distributed as follows: Wenner-Gren Fellows (25), sabbatical fellowships (5), foreign postdoctoral fellowships (41), and senior visiting scientists (10). It may be added that WGF examine the distribution of fellowships by gender when the material is sufficient and there were in general no disfavor of female applicants. The Scientific Committee continuously follows the gender balance among granted applications.

During 2022, the Wenner-Gren Fellowship program involved 33 scientists, of whom 24 were conducting their postdoctoral education abroad, 1 in Sweden, and 8 led their own research group in Sweden. The WG Fellowship program is designed to give fellows the opportunity for a three-year visit abroad and to facilitate their establishment as an independent researcher on their return to Sweden. To this end, each returning Fellow receives a grant to cover a two-year position in Sweden and a freely disposable one-time research grant of SEK 400,000, may recruit a postdoctoral researcher from abroad, and can apply for a planning grant of up to SEK 30,000 to establish collaborations with foreign research groups. Feedback from this repatriation program has been very positive.

Each year, all WG Fellows are invited to a digital meeting in the spring and a physical meeting at the Wenner-Gren Center in the autumn. A number of active Fellows recounted their experiences abroad, their current research activities and their plans for the future. A few earlier Fellows presented more long-term experiences of the program and gave concrete advice concerning researchers’ career. The autumn meeting also included a presentation by Christina Moberg, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm. Most of the active Fellows participated in the meetings.

WGF arranged a homecoming information event (Hemvändardagen) at the Wenner-Gren Center on September 15 this year. The event is intended primarily for WG Fellows who are currently overseas and postdoctoral fellows who recently returned to Sweden and is announced via Swedish universities. Around 70 young scientists participated. As in previous years, the goal was to inform young scientists about the Swedish academic system (employment opportunities, how to apply for grants, etc.) to make it easier for them to plan their return to Sweden. Eight research-funding bodies presented their respective programs for support to young researchers, and at the end of the day the WGF’s CEO led a discussion on career planning. A joint lunch offered networking opportunities for the participants.

Senior Swedish researchers (sabbatical fellows) primarily choose to visit universities in the US and in Germany this year. 
Foreign postdoctoral fellows choose to visit universities across the country, but around half of the scholarships were awarded to researchers in the Stockholm/Uppsala region. No less than 20countries were represented among the grantees, and several fellows came from India, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, and Great Britain, in that order. Well-educated young researchers from abroad are a very important addition to Swedish research, and possibilities to apply for this type of scholarship within Sweden is limited. The foreign postdoctoral fellowships have proven to be one of the Foundations’ most popular programs.

The highly qualified senior visiting researchers received grants to cover their increased living costs in Sweden, and typically they retain their salary from their home institution. As before, most of the senior fellows came from Europe, US, Asia, and Australia, and the host institutions were at several Swedish universities.

In 2022, WGF hosted two Wenner-Gren symposia, namely “Global History and the Modern World” (program committee: Sir David Cannadine, Simon Goldhill, Björn Wittrock), and “Internationalization and Academic Mobility in the 21st Century” (program committee: Mia Liinason, Frida Bender, Ewa Machotka, Philippe Tassin, all members of the Swedish Young Academy). The symposia were all held at the Wenner-Gren Center in Stockholm. WGF also awarded grants for the organization of external seminars, usually with a distinctive theme and with a clear international character. In 2022, 11 applications for this form of symposium support were granted.

WGF gave 9 researchers and institutions funding to invite guest speakers during 2022. Even smaller universities and university colleges used this form of support for international scientific exchange, and guest speakers were from US, Great Britain, Italy, South Korea, and Germany.

WGF award travel grants for studytrips abroad to younger postdoctoral researchers working in Sweden. Requirements include the researcher´s active participation in a conference, symposium, or workshop; that is, to give a lecture, participate with a poster or be chairperson. WGF funded 65 travel grants in 2022.

WGF allocate funds (Special grants) for the dissemination of knowledge about research and research training, which in the long term may be expected to promote the Foundations’ objectives. This year, grants were awarded to the Researcher’s Night in Stockholm, and the Federation of Young Scientists’ exhibition 2022.

Stockholm, February 27, 2023

Britt-Marie Sjöberg
The Wenner-Gren Foundations