The SFI scheme stipulates that each centre is to undergo evaluation before the end of the fourth year. This evaluation forms the basis for determining whether to continue the individual centre for the remainder of the total eight-year period or to terminate the centre’s activities after five years.
The Executive Board of the Research Council of Norway has decided to extend funding to all the SFI centres selected in December 2010 for the additional three-year period.
The panel evaluating the SFI CCI at work. From left: Professor Jan Engvall, Linköping University, Sweden; Professor Dr Rolf Krause, USI Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland; Professor David Williams, Loughborough University, the UK (panel chair); and Dr Mattias Lundberg, Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research.
Experienced international experts
The seven SFI centres selected by the Executive Board in December 2010 and launched in 2011 are: Sustainable Arctic Marine and Coastal Technology (SAMCoT); Centre for Software Verification and Validation (CERTUS); Center for Cardiological Innovation (CCI); Sea Lice Research Centre (SLRC); Centre for Research-based Innovation in Sustainable Fishing and Processing Technology (CRISP); Drilling and Well Centre for Improved Recovery (DrillWell); and Center for Service Innovation (CSI).
In March 2015, each centre was visited by an international panel comprising two generalists and two scientific specialists.
The generalists evaluated multiple centres, based on their knowledge about the organisation and management of this type of centre of expertise. The scientific specialists possessed extensive expertise in the thematic areas encompassed by the individual centres, and each evaluated only one. In all, 17 international experts took part in the evaluation.
The evaluation was conducted using a common framework for the seven centres. The scientific specialists had particular responsibility for evaluating scientific activity, whereas the generalists focused on the centres’ organisation and operation. The generalists also helped to place the various centres in an integrated context across subject fields and disciplines in order to highlight important similarities and differences as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the individual centres and the SFI scheme as a whole.
Professor Alison McKay at the University of Leeds was one of the international experts participating in the evaluation of the SFI centres. She headed three of the panels.
Two centres must submit plans
All seven centres received a positive evaluation in the reports. The overall report states: “The evaluation team saw some world leading science and excellent industry-academia collaborations that were delivering significant impact to the organisations involved and to wider society.”
Based on the panels’ reports and recommendations, five of the centres have been granted an extended contract without having to submit new plans for approval by the Research Council. The two other centres will be given an extended contract provided that they submit a plan by 1 December 2015 for following up selected recommendations from the evaluation report. This plan must be approved by the Research Council.
The scheme works
In light of the final decision taken on 30 September by the Research Council Executive Board, it is likely that all seven SFI centres can look forward to three more years of research-based innovation activity.
“The evaluation confirms that the SFI scheme is functioning as intended,” states Director General of the Research Council, Arvid Hallén.
“The evaluation confirms that the SFI scheme is functioning as intended and the centres are carrying out a great deal of excellent work. This is very gratifying to note. In addition, the evaluation provides useful, constructive feedback and recommendations for improvements to the individual centres and to the Research Council. This will be extremely helpful in the further development of the SFI scheme and other centre schemes,” says Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council of Norway.
The evaluation is available for download here.