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Introduces ten-year, long-term plans:

White paper on research with a long-term perspective

On 8 March 2013 the Norwegian Government presented its new white paper on research Lange linjer – kunnskap gir muligheter (“Long-term perspectives – knowledge provides opportunity”).

Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council of Norway, commented on the white paper in his blog:

Long-term perspectives – knowledge provides opportunity Long-term perspectives – knowledge provides opportunity The new white paper on research makes it clear that research has become an even more important part of all sectors of society. The research strategies of the individual ministries are summarised in an attachment to the white paper; for the Research Council, this illustrates that all sectors of society are now incorporating a knowledge perspective as an important part of their strategic thinking.

Perhaps the most important message from the white paper is that the Government wishes to develop a long-term plan for research. Research investment must have a long-term perspective, and the authorities must give clear signals about what they hope to achieve. It has long been the Research Council’s experience that one-year budgets are problematic, and the Council has previously recommended developing a long-term programme for research. It will be exciting to take part in the development of a new research policy instrument which places the annual budget in the context of more long-range thinking.

Takes recruitment seriously

Another message in the white paper is that we must do more to deal with the recruitment challenges in Norwegian research. A trial scheme for tenure-track positions should be tested out, and could become a vital part of the recruitment system. At the same time, the Government states that the institutions must reduce the proportion of temporary positions, and emphasises the institutions’ role and responsibility. The white paper also points to the need to create a framework to improve coordination between the knowledge needs of trade and industry and education programmes, which is another important signal.

Arvid Hallén Photo: Scanpix/Erlend Aas Arvid Hallén (Photo: Scanpix/Erlend Aas) The Government will continue to pursue the thematic and technological priorities from the previous white paper on research. We view this as a willingness to follow up the national strategies established in several of these areas. The Government plans to strengthen marine research, which we see as very positive. Norway is the world’s seventh largest nation with respect to fisheries and aquaculture research. We already have a strong position and we also play a clear leadership role in international cooperation in this field.

Linking research with the public sector

The white paper sets out clear aspirations for enhancing the role of research in innovation in the public sector, which is completely in keeping with the Research Council’s recommendation. We believe that a “public Ph.D.” scheme can provide a vital means of linking research circles more closely together with the public sector. The white paper emphasises health and care services, but it could have highlighted more clearly the challenges related to a population with a growing number of elderly.

The white paper states that we have effective instruments for research in the industrial sector. In the view of the Research Council, it is critical that we are able to exploit the potential of research to promote innovation in trade and industry, and we believe that more investment is needed to unleash this potential. The direction taken in the long-term budget will be important in this context. Some indication of a plan to adapt the SkatteFUNN tax deduction scheme would be warranted here.

Internationalisation is crucial

The white paper is clear about the importance of internationalisation, as well as the challenges related to the coordination with national priorities. The Research Council has been assigned a role in developing clearer priorities, and this is a role we will gladly assume.

The challenges in Norwegian research in the years to come will be related to focusing on the right areas, investing adequate amounts of funding, achieving effective use of resources, and managing to utilise the results well enough. I believe this white paper provides a good starting point for success.

(Translated into English from the Norwegian version.) 

The white paper on research

Key measures:

  • develop ten-year, long-term plans for research;
  • increase allocations;
  • conduct a review of funding of higher education and research to ensure higher quality in research and education;
  • strengthen recruitment of younger researchers by establishing a more predictable career path;
  • ensure enhanced openness and knowledge flow in research. 
The Government will:
  • introduce a trial scheme for tenure-track positions for especially talented, younger researchers in mathematics and natural sciences, technology, medicine and dentistry;
  • provide a stronger incentive for institutions that conduct basic research to obtain donations from the private sector through a donation matching scheme;
  • assess the possibility of establishing a scheme to increase the number of doctoral degrees in public institutions similar to the existing Industrial Ph.D. Scheme;
  • assess whether the overall funding of universities and university colleges is suitable for fostering high quality and encouraging institutions to focus on fields in which they have special advantages;
  • promote the establishment of infrastructure and support systems for research and development in municipal and county services;
  • develop an overall system for analysing and conveying industry’s need for knowledge in order to create a better foundation for targeted educational programmes and make informed educational choices;
  • encourage a greater flow of knowledge and increased openness: Ensure that research results are made available and disseminated in language that allows users to apply the knowledge;
  • draw up a plan to reduce the number of temporary positions and, when needed, require institutions to prepare action plans to encourage this;
  • put more focus on linking research and education, in part through student involvement in research. The Government is also asking the institutions to consider giving a financial reward to academic personnel who assume responsibility for education, and will work to develop quality indicators for educational activity. 

(Translated from a news brief published by the Ministry of Education and Research)

 

Written by:
Arvid Hallén. Translation: Connie Stultz/Carol B. Eckmann
 

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Published:
11.03.2013
Last updated:
11.03.2013