Annual Report of the Executive Board for 2015: New strategy sets the direction
In April 2015 the Executive Board adopted the new main strategy Research for Innovation and Sustainability. The strategy marked a high point in a year with a generally broad focus on the role of research in social development.
Societal challenges are being given increasingly greater priority on the research agenda overall as well as in the Research Council’s focus areas. More and more, the Council is serving as a change agent and as a knowledge supplier in a broad societal context.
A strategy for changing society
The new strategy defines a framework of objectives relating to breakthrough research and innovation; sustainable solutions; cultivating a research-oriented, innovative business sector; research to promote renewal in the public sector; increased international cooperation; and strategic contributions to promote coherence and renewal in the research system.
Significant budget increase
The budget increase in 2015 was NOK 437 million, to approximately NOK 8.5 billion. The growth in funding was largely targeted towards the Programme for User-driven Research-based Innovation (BIA), the FRIPRO funding scheme for independent projects, the establishment and operation of research infrastructure and mobilisation activities for the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020.
More research in the business sector
Research and innovation play a major role in the effort to restructure the Norwegian economy. In 2015 the Research Council expanded its initiatives to increase research-based innovation, technology development and the application of research results.
Focus on the green transition
A wide range of activities have been launched to link together knowledge and resources for developing Norwegian natural resource-based industries with strong international advantages. These activities are designed to promote the green transition and introduction of renewable solutions. The vision of optimal exploitation of biological raw materials – the bioeconomy – has been incorporated into intensified efforts relating to aquaculture, food production and land-use management.
Enabling technologies entail major potential for renewal
Enabling technologies such as ICT, nanotechnology and biotechnology will play a critical role in the development new products and services in many different areas. The Research Council enhanced its focus on such technologies in 2015 by increasing activities under the Research Programme on Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (NANO2021), the Initiative for ICT and digital innovation (IKTPLUSS), and the Research Programme on Biotechnology for Innovation (BIOTEK2021.
Norway needs better public services
The ability to lead a healthy, social and productive life is dependent on public health services that provide safe, reliable diagnostics and treatment at all levels, efficient welfare and care services, and measures that promote health and quality of life throughout all life stages. In 2015 the Research Council reorganised its health-related efforts into three large-scale programmes that will facilitate more integrated, long-term research activities.
As part of the effort to enhance education and competency, the Council carried out a major effort in 2015 to renew educational research, promote better links between expertise in companies and R&D environments in key innovation projects, and increase investment in activities related to adult learning.
Encourage higher quality and promote young talent
In order to create a better framework for top researchers and young research talent, the Research Council has expanded the FRIPRO scheme for independent projects by attaching greater emphasis to bold thinking and scientific renewal, and by launching new application types. In 2015, the new FRIPRO Toppforsk grant for top-ranked projects was introduced. The fourth round of applications for status as a Centre of Excellence (SFF) was also carried out.
Facilitating international cooperation
In the course of 2015, the Research Council reviewed all its national programmes and activities to ensure that efforts adequately support participation in Horizon 2020. Financial investment in mobilisation and stimulation measures as well as for project establishment support and positioning activities was significantly increased.
Cooperation with other influential research nations was enhanced through follow-up of the Roadmaps for bilateral research cooperation.
Sound knowledge base means good advice
Providing good advice on research and innovation policy requires a sound knowledge base. In 2015 the Research Council implemented evaluations of seven research activities which, together with mid-term evaluations and the schemes for Centres for Research-based Innovation (SFI) and the Centres for Environment-friendly Energy Research (FME) comprise key steering instruments. The further development of statistics and indicators for research and innovation comprised another important area of focus in 2015.
More user-oriented communication
In 2015 the Research Council adopted a new communication strategy designed to enhance the user-friendliness and service orientation of the organisation.
A Research Council that seeks development and renewal
In 2015 the Research Council carried out the forskningsrådet 3.0 development project. Objectives include redefining programmes as broader arenas for scientific development in priority research areas, and expanding the Council’s open competitive arenas and other important support schemes. The programme model is targeted towards promoting more consistent strategic, thematically oriented, financial activity.
A new Executive Board and division research boards were appointed in 2015. The Executive Board is appointed by the Government, while the division research boards are appointed by the Executive Board after a thorough consultative process with input from key actors in the research and business sectors and society at large.
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