Prime Minister Erna Solberg (Photo: Statsministerens kontor)
“Research and innovation are one of this Government’s most important focus areas. New ideas and solutions that can create new jobs and new value are critical if we are to be successful in navigating the restructuring we are faced with,” says Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
“Toppforsk funding is a new, targeted initiative for providing substantial, long-term funding to research groups that have the potential to become international leaders in their field. It is a key step in following up the objective in the Long-term plan for research and higher education of cultivating more world-leading academic groups in Norway,” the Prime Minister points out.
Clear priorities in the research community
Funding for Toppforsk projects is being provided in a joint effort by Norway’s universities and other research institutions and the Ministry of Education and Research and allocated via the Research Council. This is the third such joint funding initiative for the FRIPRO scheme for independent projects.
“We are very pleased that a long-term budget increase from the Ministry of Education and Research combined with clear prioritisation on the part of Norwegian research institutions makes it possible for us to give so many top-notch research groups a boost. I am certain that this will prove to be an excellent investment for all parties,” says Director General of the Research Council, Arvid Hallén.
Funding is only being allocated to projects that have received the highest score after review by international referee panels. The universities themselves have selected projects for funding from the list of top-ranked projects at their institution. All of the universities have been given funding for at least one Toppforsk project. University colleges, research institutions and the regional health authorities are participating in the joint funding initiative for the first time.
“It is gratifying to note that strong research groups outside the universities have also been successful in the competition. Nine of the projects are being hosted by other types of research institutions that have contributed their resources to the funding pot,” says Mr. Hallén.
Distribution of Toppforsk projects
The following projects have been selected for funding:
17 Toppforsk projects at the University of Oslo
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8 Toppforsk projects at the University of Bergen
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5 Toppforsk projects at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology
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7 Toppforsk projects at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, University of
Stavanger, University of Agder and Norwegian University of Life Sciences
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9 Toppforsk projects at university colleges and research institutes
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High percentage of applications awarded allocations
The Research Council reviewed a total of 172 FRIPRO Toppforsk applications. There were 74 applications that achieved a mark of 6 or 7, and were eligible for selection. Of these, 46 were selected for funding. This means that 62 per cent of the qualified applications and 27 per cent of the total applications were awarded allocations.
A total of 9 of the 46 projects selected for funding have a woman project manager. Of the 172 proposed projects, 38 had a woman project manager.
“The gender imbalance in allocations reflects the gender imbalance in the application pool. We would have liked to have seen a higher proportion of women project managers,” says the Director General.
Third joint funding initiative for the FRIPRO scheme
The universities and the Research Council pooled their resources for the first time in 2012, resulting in a NOK 600 million increase to the FRIPRO budget. In 2014, the second joint funding initiative led to an additional NOK 300 million for Young Research Talents projects. This year top-notch research groups have been given priority. The joint funding initiatives have led to a significant increase in the percentage of applications awarded allocations under the FRIPRO scheme. The cooperative effort makes it possible to award grants to many outstanding projects that would otherwise have been rejected due to a tight financial framework.