New funding announcement for Centres of Excellence in November

A total of NOK 1.5 billion will be available for new SFF centres in this funding round. The amount is expected to finance eight to ten new centres. The centres will receive funding for five years, with a possible extension of an additional five years following a midterm evaluation.

The application assessment process has been revised from previous funding rounds, and the Research Council would like to draw attention to several factors that the institutions need to be aware of.

Advancing the international research frontier

Universities, university hospitals, university colleges and research institutes must have an extensive basic research portfolio to serve as host institutions for the SFF centres. Grant proposals must be submitted by the highest administrative level at the institution.

The SFF scheme is intended to address complex research questions where it is necessary to establish a centre to produce ground-breaking results, says Anders Hanneborg. (Photo: Sverre Jarild) “We want to encourage the research institutions to concentrate their resources on a limited number of grant proposals. Both the preparation and the assessment of proposals for SFF status require enormous resources,” says Anders Hanneborg, Executive Director of the Division for Science at the Research Council.

“The winners in the competition for SFF funding are the cream of the crop, and the research to be conducted must have the potential to advance the international research front for a centre to achieve SFF status. The Research Council stipulates that both the centre director and the principal investigators must be international leaders in their fields. The SFF scheme is intended to address complex research questions where it is necessary to establish a centre to produce ground-breaking results,” emphasises Mr Hanneborg. 

Condensed project description in phase 1

Grant proposals for SFF centres will be reviewed in two phases. For the 25 November deadline, applicants must submit a condensed, five-page project description. The list of proposals selected to advance to phase 2 will be published on the Research Council’s website at the end of March 2016. The application deadline for the second phase is scheduled for the end of May 2016. For that deadline, applicants must submit a full, 15-page project description for the centre.

“The reason we are asking for a condensed project description in phase 1 is that we want to make it possible for members of the scientific committees to assess the main research idea and scientific quality of all the proposals. The task of the scientific committees is to assess the proposals as a whole. It is not until phase 2 that the international experts with expertise in the various areas will assess the individual proposals,” explains Mr Hanneborg.

Read  about the revised application assessment process for the SFF scheme

“However, we recommend that applicants write a complete project description prior to the first application deadline, and use a condensed version of that. This is the best way to ensure that the short version is as good as possible, and will give applicants that make it through to phase 2 sufficient time to prepare a full application even though they will only have two months to prepare it.”

Between NOK 8–13 million per year

In both rounds, the SFF proposals will be assessed in relation to criteria in these four areas:

  • The research plan
  • Qualifications of the centre director
  • Qualifications of the principal investigators
  • Organisation of the centre

The Research Council will contribute between NOK 8–13 million per year for basic funding of an SFF centre. Centres with particularly high operating expenses may seek up to an additional NOK 5 million in funding.

See  the planned funding announcement with a description of requirements, criteria, application processing and funding.

Information meeting on 2 June 2015

The Research Council will hold an information meeting about the SFF funding announcement on Tuesday, 2 June 2015, at 12:00 noon at the Research Council’s offices at Lysaker in Oslo.
New application category for advanced researcher grants under the FRIPRO scheme
Starting in 2015, the Research Council is planning to introduce a new application category for advanced researcher grants under the FRIPRO scheme for independent projects. Projects funded in this category will receive a larger, longer term grant than normal Researcher Projects, although they will have a shorter project period and a lower Research Council funding level than an SFF centre. 

One purpose of this new funding category is to give the research institutions an opportunity to increase the number of internationally leading research groups.


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