The new versions of Tools for research – Part I and Part II set out the Research Council’s vision for Norway’s research infrastructure landscape and present the strategic foundation for the approach to and prioritisation of activities relating to research infrastructure.
Time for an update
The national strategy for research infrastructure Tools for research – Part I is an update of the version published in 2008. Many of the recommendations made in the previous strategy document have since been followed up and realised.
A key aspect of the previous strategy document was to establish the funding scheme known today as the National Financing Initiative for Research Infrastructure.
The updated strategy describes how the funding structure for research infrastructure is to be further developed. Recommendations for actions to be taken by the government ministries and research institutions are provided as well as an overview of measures the Research Council itself intends to implement.
Follow the roadmap
The strategy and roadmap are part of the research policy input provided by the Research Council to the allocating authorities, and clearly state the importance of continuing to prioritise infrastructure in the form of facilities, equipment and databases.
The strategy strongly recommends that the ministries refer to the roadmap when planning their investments, as this will enable them to take advantage of the considerable effort and substantial resources that have gone into quality-assuring the projects included there.
“All of the projects in the Norwegian roadmap are of especially high scientific merit, and all of them are considered to be of strategic importance to Norwegian research,” says Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council.
The new strategy documents highlight projects that have already been awarded grants, as well as outstanding projects that have not yet received the green light.
Building a national structure
“We are in the process of establishing a national structure, in which research infrastructures that serve a broad national interest are being developed in just one or very few places,” says Mr Hallén. “Many institutions have accepted leadership roles, along with the responsibility of making the infrastructure they manage available to the entire Norwegian research community.”
The initial roadmap encompassed 23 projects; that number has now grown to 38. In the 2010 roadmap, nine of the national projects had received funding from the National Financing Initiative for Research Infrastructure and were under implementation, while the remaining projects were characterised as investment-ready. Fully 21 of the projects in the current roadmap are now under implementation.
Norwegian interests in projects in the ESFRI roadmap (an overview of strategically important, pan-European infrastructures) have also expanded. Norway’s 2010 roadmap included just six ESFRI projects, whereas the new Norwegian roadmap encompasses 12 ESFRI projects in which Norway has entered into binding agreements or has clearly signalled its desire to participate. Three of these will be hosted by Norwegian institutions.
Continued priority in national budget
In the Research Council’s input for the 2013 national budget, research infrastructure is once again stressed as a main priority. Continued escalation of investments and long-term, reliable funding for research infrastructure are vital, emphasises the Research Council.
“Sound infrastructure organised and managed efficiently is critical to realising Norway’s research ambitions,” asserts Mr Hallén.
“State-of-the-art equipment also makes Norwegian research groups more attractive internationally. Significant investment in equipment is essential for collaborating with the best international environments and inspiring top students to pursue a career in research.”
Strategy and roadmap in English
The strategy and roadmap are currently available in Norwegian only (see column at right for links). An extract is now being translated into English and will be made available on the INFRASTRUKTUR webpages when it has been completed.