Digital Futures is a cross-disciplinary research centre that explores and develops digital technologies of great societal importance. It was jointly established this year by KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm University and RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, based on significant long-term support of a Strategic Research Area by the Swedish Government.
Digital Futures developed out of the Strategic Research Area Information and Communication Technology the Next Generation (ICT TNG), which was established 2009 at KTH in collaboration with Stockholm University and RISE. ICT TNG has over the last decade focused its research efforts along four key thematic areas, where 15 targeted faculty recruitments have been made and a large number of collaborative research projects been executed.
In 2017, following the announcement in the Swedish Government’s research bill, the planning started for the creation of a new environment on technologies for digital transformation and engaged some hundred faculty members and other researcher leaders at KTH, Stockholm University and RISE as well as at several other organizations and companies. This environment is now Digital Futures and was formally established in 2020 based on an annual governmental funding increase to the Strategic Research Area by 78 MSEK to an annual budget of about 115 MSEK.
Following the successful review of ICT TNG 2015 organized by the Swedish Research Council, it was decided by the ICT TNG management to take some actions to even further strengthen the environment. These actions have largely been incorporated into the establishment of Digital Futures. In particular, it was suggested to introduce impact domains of key societal and economic importance, and that research projects should strive for significant and transformative contributions in these domains. To emphasize the overall structure, project activities should follow a matrix with vertical scientific thematic areas and horizontal impact domains.
For the development of Digital Futures into a truly cross-disciplinary research environment, the involvement of new research groups at KTH, Stockholm University and RISE have been essential to target the ambitious goals of the Centre and to grow much beyond the activities of ICT TNG. Some new cross-disciplinary collaborations have already been established within Digital Futures, while others are currently being developed or planned.
Faculty renewal within the area should focus on junior international rising stars (ERC/KAW level) in broad areas. In addition to the research program, dedicated strategic activities should be launched, including postdoc program, mobility program, innovative knowledge-transfer activities, scientific and industrial workshops, and public outreach activities. Activities should have targets related to gender equality and diversity.