Evaluation of Basic ICT research:
Vast potential – too little investment
Despite relatively small investments in ICT research, Norway has many research groups at the international forefront. However, the research focus in several strategically important areas is inadequate. One example is ICT security.
These are some of the conclusions from an evaluation of basic Norwegian research in the area of information and communications technology conducted in 2011. An international committee of experts headed by Professor Jan Hesthaven of Brown University in the US conducted the evaluation on commission from the Research Council of Norway.
The previous evaluation of the ICT field was carried out in 2002.
“A great deal has happened since then,” says Dr Hesthaven. “For one thing, the recommendation to put more focus on groups and less on individuals has been followed up. We have also seen a large increase in the number of doctoral degree candidates.”
Too little investment in ICT research
In the view of the committee, Norway invests too little in ICT research in relation to the field’s importance and compared with many other countries in Western Europe and North America. This makes it more difficult for Norway to take full advantage of the possibilities emerging from ICT-related changes in society.
Despite relatively small investments, the committee points out that Norway has many internationally cutting-edge research groups. Given greater allocation of resources, the number of groups at this level could be even higher.
Too little focus on strategically important areas
According to the committee, Norway has focused too little research on key areas such as data and information security. There is a great need to strengthen the knowledge base in this area.
“The US and all the large countries in Western Europe allocate significant resources to this kind of research. We believe the current level of investment in Norway is inadequate,” says Dr Hesthaven.
Gjøvik University College has a large group of researchers who study ICT security, while the research circles at the major universities are small.
Other strategically important areas that the committee believes deserve greater attention include ICT in the biosciences, industrial robots in dangerous environments such as offshore, and ICT in energy and power production.
Lacking a national strategy
The committee would like to see a national strategy for ICT research that targets quality. The research areas are often fragmented and poorly adapted to the needs of Norwegian industry. Insufficient coordination means that the return on investment is lower than it might have been.
Much of this can be remedied with the national strategy for ICT research currently under development by the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs. The strategy is planned to be completed in autumn 2012.
|Evaluation of ICT subjects|
The evaluation encompasses the ICT departments at the Universities of Agder, Bergen, Oslo, Stavanger, Trondheim and Tromsø, as well as Gjøvik, Vestfold and Østfold University Colleges, the University Graduate Centre at Kjeller, SIMULA Research and selected research groups at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment and SINTEF ICT.
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