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NOK 1 billion for research infrastructure

The Research Council of Norway has allocated NOK 1 billion in funding to research facilities, laboratories, equipment and databases. Nineteen projects of crucial importance for trade and industry, health services, the environment and renewable energy have made it through the eye of the needle.

Minister of Education and Research Torbjørn Røe Isaksen. (Photo: Marte Garmann) “We are keeping up the momentum in research infrastructure funding. These investments play a crucial role in giving our companies a competitive advantage and enabling our research groups to work at the cutting edge internationally,” says Minister of Education and Research Torbjørn Røe Isaksen.

A list of the 19 projects selected for contract negotiations with the Research Council, as well as the 7 projects on the ranked waiting list, is provided below. Of the 19 winning infrastructures, 12 have not received previous infrastructure funding from the Research Council, while 7 have been granted support to upgrade and further develop existing infrastructure.

As with previous calls for proposals, each project involves extensive cooperation between multiple stakeholders. “This is a funding instrument that clearly promotes cooperation within the sector. One of the objectives is to increase collaboration between different research groups, which we are very pleased about,” the Minister of Education and Research adds.

Essential for priority focus areas

These 19 infrastructures will be of key importance to priority areas such as industry-oriented research, health care, renewable energy, climate and the oceans.

The projects range from infrastructure for converting biomass into environment-friendly products, equipment to enhance energy-efficiency in industry and to develop digital production processes, to service-based infrastructure for primary health services, floats for use in marine research in Arctic waters, replacement of high performance computing facilities and infrastructure for managing data from archaeological excavations.  

Minister of Education and Research Torbjørn Røe Isaksen (second from right) visiting one of SINTEF’s laboratories together with Espen Eberg of SINTEF (left), Dag Eirik Nordgård of SINTEF and John-Arne Røttingen, Chief Executive of the Research Council. (Photo: Astrid Lundquist, SINTEF)

“The equipment budget has had a healthy increase in recent years. State-of-the-art computer facilities, laboratories and equipment are critical for expanding research capacity in national priority areas. The enormous amount of funding sought under this call shows that there is still a large, unmet need to launch new projects, as well as to upgrade and further develop infrastructures with proven track records,” says John-Arne Røttingen, Chief Executive of the Research Council.  

Keen competition for strategic investments

This year’s funding round is the fifth under the National Financing Initiative for Research Infrastructure (INFRASTRUKTUR). The competition for funding in this round has been keen, with 92 project proposals seeking a total of NOK 5.7 billion.

“Many of the applications submitted were larger and more ambitious than in previous funding rounds. In order to establish and further develop infrastructures within a wide array of priority research areas, many of the projects awarded funding will be granted a significantly smaller financial framework than they had proposed. Applicants will be notified of the financial framework allocated for their projects at the end of June or beginning of July,” states Asbjørn Mo, Director of the Department for Research Infrastructure at the Research Council.

Half of the funding awarded to industry and business-related infrastructures

Close to half of the approved projects target trade and industry as key users. Several other projects will also be of relevance to this sector. In one of the projects, academia and industry will be joining forces to establish the Norwegian Manufacturing Research Laboratory to develop advanced production methods. This infrastructure will help to facilitate a restructuring of Norwegian industry and bring about successful digital transformation in industries such as oil and gas, aquaculture, maritime activity and the production of goods and services. 

Measuring parameters at different water depths provides insight into the impacts of climate change on the ocean, the atmosphere and the Arctic ice cover. A large number of Argo robotic floats will be deployed in the Norwegian Sea, the waters around Iceland, the Greenland Sea, the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean. (From left) Sissel Rogne, Managing Director of the Institute of Marine Research; Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry, Monica Mæland, and Project Manager, Kjell Arne Mork, of the Institute of Marine Research with an Argo float in the middle. (Photo: Camilla Aadland, Sysla)

Increasing focus on renewable energy

Three of the projects awarded funding involve renewable energy, and all three projects are affiliated with Centres for Environment-friendly Energy Research (FME).

One of these projects will be upgrading and investing in new equipment for research to improve energy efficiency in industry. This infrastructure targets a wide range of Norwegian industries, and the laboratory will be used for research with a direct impact on industry-based energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

The second project will be investing in equipment to advance Norway’s national energy and power system. This type of infrastructure does not exist in Norway and is found only in a few parts around the world. It is important to ensure that renewable energy and new consumption patterns are integrated into the power system without compromising the supply.

Thirdly, the Research Council is also investing in an upgrade of the Norwegian Biorefinery Laboratory. This biorefinery infrastructure works to develop processes for the sustainable conversion of Norwegian biomass into novel, environment-friendly biochemicals, biomaterials and bioenergy products.

Data and models for cutting-edge climate and marine research

Norway will be taking part in an international initiative to increase knowledge about the sustainable utilisation of marine resources.

Measuring parameters at different water depths provides insight into the impacts of climate change on the ocean, the atmosphere and the Arctic ice cover. A large number of Argo robotic floats will be deployed in the Norwegian Sea, the waters around Iceland, the Greenland Sea, the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean.

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) recently honoured Norway for its efforts to build professional capacity in ocean science. The Argo floats will provide highly useful data to Norway’s world-leading groups in marine and environmental research. Norway is also at the forefront in climate modelling, and the Norwegian Earth System Model (NorESM) is slated for an upgrade. This will facilitate the development of a user-friendly climate model for applications in both climate research and government administration.

Four infrastructures will be established in the field of health, one of which will focus on building more knowledge-based primary health services. (Photo: Shutterstock)

A boost for primary health services and medicine

There is a wide-ranging need to achieve more knowledge-based primary health services. The Norwegian Primary Care Research Network is a new infrastructure designed to make it easier for research groups to recruit more patients from primary health services for clinical studies. The infrastructure will also make it possible to use data from primary health services in research, disease monitoring and quality enhancement.

The Norwegian Molecular Imagining Infrastructure will be upgrading its equipment in order to employ imaging technologies in animal model systems. The infrastructure consists of a three-site collaboration specialised in cancer, heart and brain studies, and will be used in research to understand disease mechanisms and to develop new treatment methods.

The most widely and frequently used infrastructure within biology, health and medicine, ELIXIR, will also undergo an upgrade. ELIXIR contains vast amounts of biological and medical data which will become more accessible and can be linked in new ways. This will be of great benefit to research on personalised treatment, among others.

The Access Life Course databases infrastructure links life course data from two large-scale Norwegian studies, one on ageing and generation and one on generation and gender, which are both part of the UN Generations and Gender Programme (GGP). The upgrade will make it possible to link the database to registry data from the period 2002–2022. In addition, the database will be made more accessible to researchers as well as users in health and care administration and the business sector.

Infrastructures for processing huge amounts of data

Four national facilities for high-performance computing, data storage and secure storage of sensitive data need to be replaced to ensure that future needs for storage capacity and processing resources will be met.

Electronic infrastructure (eInfrastructure) is important in many subject areas, and especially for research requiring highly complex calculations or generating great amounts of data. Norway has several dynamic research groups in this area.  

Electronic infrastructure (eInfrastructure) is important in many subject areas and especially for research involving highly complex calculations or generating great amounts of data. (Illustration: Shutterstock)

Another project is focused on High Performance Computing, i.e. exascale supercomputer systems, capable of performing a minimum of a quintillion (1018) calculations each second. This is the next generation of supercomputing and it will be essential for processing and managing the colossal amounts of increasingly complex research data in the future.

Project overview

The following projects have been invited to enter into contract negotiations with the Research Council:

Project title/infrastructure

Applicant consortium
(Formal applicant institution listed first)                      

Bioresources/renewable energy
 

 

Norwegian Biorefinery Laboratory

Paper and Fibre Institute (PFI),
SINTEF Energy Research, SINTEF Materials and Chemistry, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), NIBIO

EMBRC Norway - The Norwegian Node of the European Marine Biological Resource Center 

University of Bergen (UiB),
Institute of Marine Research, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), University of Oslo (UiO), Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Nofima AS

Biotechnology

 

ELIXIR Norway – a distributed infrastructure for the next generation of life science

University of Bergen (UiB),

University of Oslo (UiO), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

eInfrastructure

 

E-INFRA 2016 – a national e-infrastructure for science

UNINETT Sigma2 AS,

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), UiT The Arctic University of Norway, University of Bergen (UiB), University of Oslo (UiO)

NelC-Norway: Norwegian participation in the Nordic e-Infrastructure Collaboration

UNINETT Sigma2 AS,
Danish e-Infrastructure Cooperation (DEIC), Finnish Centre for Scientific Computing (CSC), Icelandic University Research Network (RHnet), Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC), University of Bergen (UiB), University of Oslo (UiO) and NordForsk

ICT

 

Experimental Infrastructure for Exploration of Exascale Computing                         

SIMULA Research Laboratory AS,
UiT The Arctic University of Norway, University of Bergen (UiB), SIRUIS Centre for Scalable Data Access, Big Insight, Center for Cardiological Innovation (CCI), UNINETT Sigma2, Dolphin Interconnect Solutions AS, Numascale AS, Fabriscale, Oracle Norway

Renewable energy

 

National Laboratories for an Energy Efficient Industry (HighEFFLab)

SINTEF Energy Research,
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), SINTEF Foundation

Future distribution and transmission electrical grid components lab – ELPOWERLAB

SINTEF Energy Research

Petroleum technology

 

Tiller Multiphase Flow Laboratory

SINTEF Petroleum Research

Basic natural sciences

 

Enabling LHC Physics at Extreme Collision Rates

University of Oslo (UiO),
University of Bergen (UiB), Bergen University College, University College of Southeast Norway

Medicine and health

 

The Norwegian Primary Care Research Network

University of Bergen (UiB),
University of Oslo (UiO), UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), UNI Research, University Hospital of North Norway (UNN)

Norwegian Molecular Imaging Infrastructure (NORMOLIM)

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU),
University of Bergen (UiB), Oslo University Hospital

Humanities

 

Archaeological Digital Excavation Documentation (ADED)

Museum of Cultural History,
University of Stavanger Museum of Archaeology, University Museum of Bergen, Tromsø University Museum, Directorate for Cultural Heritage

Social sciences

 

ACCESS Life Course Database: Upgrade and Expansion

Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (HiOA),
UiO Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Agder (UiA), UiO Department of Psychology, Norwegian Centre for Research Data (NSD), University of Bergen (UiB), Erasmus University Rotterdam, Max Planck Institutes  

Climate and the environment

 

Infrastructure for Norwegian Earth System modelling

Uni Research,
Norwegian Meteorological Institute (MET), Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), UiB Geophysical Institute, Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC) UiO Department of Geosciences

A Norwegian Argo Infrastructure – a contribution to the European and global Argo infrastructure

Institute of Marine Research,
UiB Department of Geosciences Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC), Norwegian Meteorological Institute (MET), Akvaplan NIVA, UiB UNI Research Climate.

Nanotechnology and advanced materials

 

Norwegian Laboratory for Mineral and Materials Characterisation

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), SINTEF Materials and Chemistry, Geological Survey of Norway (NGU)

Maritime technology

 

The Marine Technology Laboratories – Required Upgrading and Developments (Phase III)

SINTEF Ocean,
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Other technology

 

Norwegian Manufacturing Research Laboratory

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU),
SINTEF Raufoss Manufacturing AS, SINTEF Foundation

 

In addition, the Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System – Infrastructure development of the Norwegian node (SIOS-InfraNor) project, which also encompasses a small segment of the Climate-ecological Observatory for Arctic Tundra (COAT) infrastructure, will be invited to enter into contract negotiations. SIOS-InfraNor is an ESFRI project where Norway has a binding agreement in place.

Host institution: University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)
Partners: Institute of Marine Research (IMR), Norwegian Meteorological Institute (MET), Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC), Geological Survey of Norway (NGU), Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), Northern Research Institute (NORUT), Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), University of Oslo (UiO), University of Bergen (UiB), UiT The Arctic University of Norway (UiT) and the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE).

Overview of projects currently on the waiting list

In the event that contract negotiations with any of the above projects are not successful, a project is concluded early, or there is still funding available after contract negotiations are completed, the Research Council will open contract negotiations with projects from the ranked waiting list.

Project title/infrastructure

Applicant consortium

Ranking

NorSOOP: Norwegian Ships of Opportunity Program for marine and atmospheric research

NIVA
Institute of Marine Research (IMR), Akvaplan NIVA, Norwegian Meteorological Institute (MET)

1

Norwegian Centre for Bioprocessing & Fermentation – Norwegian BioCentre- NBioC

International Research Institute of Stavanger (IRIS)
SINTEF, Nofima AS, IRIS, Teknova AS, Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO), University of Stavanger (UiS), UiT The Arctic University of Norway, University of Bergen (UiB), Biosentrum AS

2

EMBRC Norway - The Norwegian Node of the European Marine Biological Resource Centre (for infrastructure)

University of Bergen (UiB)
Institute of Marine Research (IMR), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), University of Oslo (UiO), Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Nofima AS

3

Health Registries for Research (HRR) – strengthening the ongoing HRR-infrastructure

University of Bergen (UiB)
Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norwegian Directorate of Health, South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority, Norwegian Centre for Research Data (NSD)

4

Peace Science Infrastructure

Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
Uppsala University, University of Oslo (UiO), Norwegian Computing Center

5

High-Precision Geochronology Section of the Ivar Giæver Geomagnetic Laboratory

University of Oslo (UiO)
Geological Survey of Norway (NGU), UiT The Arctic University of Norway, University of Bergen (UiB)

6

Ocean Space Field Laboratory Trondheimsfjorden

SINTEF Ocean
Norwegian University of Science and Technology

7

 

Written by:
Christian Lund. Translation: Glenn Wells/Carol B. Eckmann.
Published:
29.06.2017
Last updated:
29.06.2017