The Swedish government has announced a record investment in basic research, much of which will be directed to fields such as stem cells, climate modelling and nanotechnology.

Introduced on 23 October, the bill provides almost 15 billion Swedish krona (US$1.9 billion) for research and innovation between 2009 and 2012. Sweden currently spends 25 billion krona a year on research; that figure is expected to rise by 20% by 2012.

Most of the new funds will be distributed to universities through a merit-based system. Gunnar Öquist, head of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, says that although the initiative would reverse years of declining research budgets, he worries that its narrow focus could stifle creativity.

The bill will now be taken up by the parliament, and is expected to pass early in 2009.