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Funding for independent research (FRIPRO):

Young research talent in focus under the FRIPRO scheme

Researchers aged 39 or younger who are currently conducting independent research of high scientific quality may apply for funding under the new category “Young Research Talent”.

The FRIPRO scheme’s funding announcement for 2013 will have a greater focus on scientific renewal in research projects and willingness to “think outside the box”.

Photo: Sverre Jarild (Photo: Sverre Jarild)

The FRIPRO scheme – the Research Council of Norway’s main instrument for funding researcher-initiated basic research – is being revamped in key ways, including greater focus on young talent, creative thinking and scientific renewal. Specific guidelines regarding who can apply for funding and how grant applications will be assessed are currently being drawn up.

“A call for proposals with detailed requirements, guiding principles and assessment criteria will be issued on 16 April,” says Anders Hanneborg, Executive Director of the Division for Science at the Research Council.

Better opportunities for younger researchers

“The new white paper on research presented recently clearly signalled that the Government will work to make research a more attractive career choice for younger, highly skilled researchers. The Research Council is following it up by introducing a separate category for young talent under the FRIPRO scheme,” says Mr Hanneborg.

“This new category represents a separate arena where younger researchers will compete with each other, not against senior researchers with a long list of merits.”

Facebook for communication

Potential applicants may pose questions regarding funding for “Young Research Talent” on a new Facebook page named “Unge forskertalenter”(the Norwegian equivalent to “Young Research Talent”.

Facebook logo Mr Hanneborg underscores, however, that the Norwegian-language FRIPRO webpage will remain the primary source of complete information about the FRIPRO scheme. Although an English-language webpage does exist, its content is limited compared to the Norwegian version.

New objectives for FRIPRO

The changes to the FRIPRO scheme are the result of a wide-ranging process based on the conclusions of evaluations of the scheme itself as well as of the Research Council as a whole. The new objectives highlight quality, boldness in thinking and scientific renewal.

The FRIPRO scheme will promote:

  • research of internationally leading scientific quality;
  • pioneering and innovative research; '
  • careers for talented younger researchers.

Main components of the category for Young Research Talent

Young Research Talent will be one of four application categories under the FRIPRO scheme. Applicants in this category must satisfy the following criteria to qualify for funding:

  • The applicant must have demonstrated the ability to conduct independent research of high scientific quality beyond his or her doctoral work.
  • The applicant must be 39 years or younger as of the date of the deadline for submission of grant applications (this age-limit may be extended by the addition of time to compensate for formal leaves of absence or long-term sick leave, regardless of when the leaves of absence/sick leave took place).
  • Individuals with permanent or temporary positions at universities, university colleges or independent research institutes are eligible to apply for funding.
  • This grant may be sought a maximum of three times.
  • This grant may be received only once.

Grant proposals under the category Young Research Talent may seek funding for:

  • salary costs for the project manager;
  • salary costs for one to two positions in addition to the project manager (doctoral, post-doctoral or researcher positions);
  • operating expenses;
  • equipment depreciation costs;
  • a total amount of NOK 3–7 million;
  • projects with a duration of maximum four years.

Three other categories

The application category Researcher Project is reserved for established researchers with experience extending well beyond the post-doctoral period.

As of the date of the deadline for submission of grant applications, a minimum of six years must have passed since the applicant defended his or her doctoral thesis. A total of maximum NOK 9 million in funding may be sought.

The application categories Personal Post-doctoral Research Fellowship and Support for Events will be continued as they are today, without any changes.

Bolder, more innovative thinking

Scientific quality has always been and will continue to be the decisive criterion for awarding funding under the FRIPRO scheme. What is new is that the scheme encourages researchers in all of the categories to “think outside the box”.

“We want to see more projects that foster genuine scientific renewal,” explains Mr Hanneborg.

The extent of creative thinking and scientific renewal of a project will be assessed in relation to whether the proposed research exhibits:

  • major potential for groundbreaking results and scientific renewal;
  • creativity and unconventional approaches;
  • renewal of theory and methodology; 
  • a major impact for a variety of disciplines and subject areas.  

This year’s and future budgets

Anders Hanneborg Anders Hanneborg “We have not yet decided how the budget will be distributed among the four FRIPRO categories. The distribution is contingent on the national budget for 2014 (which will be presented in mid-October 2013) and on the number and quality of applications received in each category,” states the executive director.

The FRIPRO scheme has a budget of NOK 738 million for 2013, including NOK 100 million allocated by the universities under a 2012 joint funding initiative between the institutions and the Ministry of Education and Research to provide the Research Council with additional allocations. The funding for 2013 will be awarded to ongoing projects or new projects with start-up this year.

The Research Council has proposed a budget increase of NOK 75 million for the FRIPRO scheme for 2014, of which NOK 50 million will be earmarked for the priority category “Young Research Talent”. The universities are on board for a new joint funding initiative targeting this priority. If the proposed budget increase becomes a reality, the institutions themselves will allocate a matching NOK 50 million to this category.

Written by:
Ingvil Bjørnæs. Translation: Victoria Coleman/Carol B. Eckmann
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