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Research priorities: Input to the research budget for 2018

Input to the research budget for 2018

The Research Council of Norway is proposing an increase of NOK 1.2 billion in its initial input to the ministries in connection with the national budget for 2018.

The Research Council has based its recommended research investments for 2018 on the Government’s Long-term plan for research and higher education and follow-up of this during the first three years of the plan period.

The Research Council’s proposal is designed to improve competitiveness and innovation capacity in the private and public sectors as well as to promote knowledge-based solutions for developing a sustainable society and dynamic research groups that deliver high-quality research.

Allocations for following up the Long-term plan for the period 2015-2017

Seas and oceans

Increased research-based value creation will increase the yield from marine resources while helping to create more knowledge-based jobs.

The course and targets for continued efforts are set out in the national R&D strategies for the 21st century for the marine, maritime and petroleum sectors, respectively: HAV21, MARITIM21 and OG21.

Among other things, the Research Council will give priority to research that can help to solve the problem of salmon lice, ensure better management of fisheries resources in ocean areas, create smart solutions for the maritime industry of tomorrow, and facilitate cost-effective utilisation of petroleum resources.

Achieving more environment-friendly and sustainable development in these industries will require a significant increase in research activity. Transfer of technology and expertise between the sectors will help to boost the pace of innovation and value creation. Increased investment will also enable Norwegian research groups to maintain their world-leading position in these fields.

The Research Council is recommending an increase of NOK 130 million for research and development in the marine, maritime and petroleum sectors. Key activities are the Large-scale Programme on Aquaculture Research (HAVBRUK2), Research Programme on Marine Resources and the Environment (MARINFORSK), Research Programme on Sustainable Innovation in Food and Bio-based Industries (BIONÆR), Innovation Programme for Maritime Activities and Offshore Operations (MAROFF), and Large-scale Programme for Petroleum Research (PETROMAKS 2).

Climate, environment and clean energy

Achieving a low-emission society and a green transition will require new technological solutions, new markets, changes in behaviour, and new social and industrial policy. Norway’s commitments include its nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement, its commitment to double R&D investment in clean energy under the Mission Innovation initiative, its national commitment to reduce emissions in Norway by 40 per cent by 2030, and its commitment to protect biodiversity under the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

The Research Council will give priority to knowledge that enhances the integration of climate and environmental considerations into all segments of society and trade and industry as well as to research that advances the development of clean energy technologies and low-emission solutions. Such technologies will also open up substantial opportunities for the business sector to increase value creation in one of the world’s most rapidly growing markets.

It will also be essential to improve and raise the efficiency of transport systems and plan more environment-friendly solutions for use in cities and urban areas. Climate research must be targeted towards the polar areas in particular, as the impacts of climate change are particularly widespread there. Svalbard will serve as an important knowledge platform. Strong Norwegian research groups have great potential to contribute to the transition to a greener society.

The Research Council is recommending an increase of NOK 210 million for research to help to achieve sustainable solutions in society and the business sector. Key activities are the Large-scale Programme on Climate Research (KLIMAFORSK), Polar Research Programme (POLARPROG), Programme for Space Research (ROMFORSK), Programme on Environmental Research for a Green Transition (MILJØFORSK), Transport 2025 Programme, Large-scale Programme for Energy Research (ENERGIX), and Norwegian RD&D CCS Programme (CLIMIT).

Better public services

The public sector is facing major challenges such as an ageing population, increased migration and expectations regarding improved health and welfare services. A well-functioning educational system has an impact on people’s ties to the labour market as well as on social integration and welfare. The public sector is also reliant on democratic and effective governance, planning and management.

Effective solutions are dependent on state and municipal capacity to restructure and ability to administer and supply good services. Achieving national reforms and goals related to provision of municipal activities, digitisation, health, education and the conditions under which children grow up will require better knowledge-based solutions than those in place today.

Increased investment will trigger research-based innovation activities in the municipal sector, expand research expertise and further develop the research and innovation system for the public sector as a whole.

Research priorities in the area of health and care include delaying or preventing illness and ensuring effective treatment and rehabilitation. Increased research on the education sector will help to foster institutions with reduced drop-out rates that provide relevant expertise for working life as well as a sector that bases education on the best available knowledge.

A larger share of public research funding must be distributed via a national competitive arena to develop stronger research and innovation environments.

The Research Council is recommending an increase of NOK 145 million for research to help to achieve better public services. Important initiatives are the Programme for Research and Innovation in the Municipal Sector (FORKOMMUNE), Public Sector Ph.D. Scheme, Research Programme on Democratic and Effective Governance, Planning and Public Administration (DEMOS), Research Programme on Societal Security and Safety (SAMRISK II), Programme on Health, Care and Welfare Services Research (HELSEVEL), Research Programme on High-quality and Reliable Diagnostics, Treatment and Rehabilitation (BEHANDLING), Research Programme on Better Health and Quality of Life (BEDREHELSE), Research Programme on Welfare, Working Life and Migration (VAM), and Programme for Research and Innovation in the Educational Sector (FINNUT).

Enabling technologies

The enabling technologies – biotechnology, nanotechnology and ICT – are essential for innovation, restructuring and sustainable solutions in most areas of society and trade and industry and are becoming increasingly important for the competitiveness of the Norwegian business sector and renewal in the public sector.

The political goals for the enabling technologies are described in the “Digital Agenda for Norway” and the national strategies for ICT, biotechnology and nanotechnology.

There is a particular need to boost investment in ICT research to advance the comprehensive digitisation of society and the business sector in the years ahead. Increased investment is also needed to enable the research community and society as a whole to keep pace with developments in biotechnology, nanotechnology and advanced production processes. 

The IKTPLUSS initiative on ICT and digital innovation is designed to generate breakthrough, applied research results that can be used to solve challenges in the areas of health and care, energy and the environment, the bioeconomy, public services, and societal security. Close collaboration between the business sector and R&D institutions will spawn new synergies. The aim is to achieve more innovative, secure and effective solutions for use in trade and industry and the government and municipal sector.

The Research Council is recommending an increase of NOK 73 million for research and innovation activities under the Research Programme on Biotechnology for Innovation (BIOTEK2021), Research Programme on Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (NANO2021), Initiative for ICT and Digital Innovation (IKTPLUSS), and Programme on Responsible Innovation and Corporate Social Responsibility (SAMANSVAR) in order to strengthen enabling technologies.

Innovative and adaptable industry

Norway needs diverse, adaptable trade and industry that can utilise new knowledge and technology to increase value creation. Company investment in research and development of research-based knowledge will be critical for the business sector’s capacity to innovate, productivity and competitiveness. Increased investment on the part of the state is essential to achieving the Government’s target of 2 per cent of R&D investments in Norway coming from trade and industry.

The R&D schemes that are open to companies in all branches of industry must be strengthened to encourage more research across the breadth of the Norwegian business sector. Increased public risk mitigation will enable more companies to incorporate research into their innovation efforts, cooperate with R&D institutions, support their employees in pursuing a doctoral degree, and invest in more ambitious, internationally-oriented research and innovation projects.

Schemes that promote commercialisation and start-up of new companies based on the results of publicly funded research must also be strengthened. Investment in research to develop the bioeconomy and the transport system of tomorrow should be intensified in order to promote industrial development in areas of society where the need for restructuring is substantial.

The Research Council is recommending an increase of NOK 155 million to help to achieve a more innovative and adaptable business sector. There is a particular need for growth in allocations to the Programme on User-driven Research-based Innovation (BIA), Eurostars Programme, Industrial Ph.D. Scheme, Programme on Commercialising R&D Results (FORNY2020), Research Programme on Sustainable Innovation in Food and Bio-based Industries (BIONÆR), and Transport 2025 Programme.

World-leading academic groups

The best research groups must be given the opportunity to become international leaders in their fields with the help of ample funding and favourable framework conditions. The most talented individuals must view research as an attractive career option and must be given opportunities to establish international networks early in their careers.

World-leading research emerges from dynamic scientific environments that cooperate internationally and have access to top-quality research infrastructure. Strong research groups are essential to advancing the research front, helping to create solutions to the grand societal challenges and laying the foundation for innovation and future value creation.

Enhancing the quality of research is a fundamental priority for the Government. Investment in thematically independent research must be increased to work together with research institutions in ensuring that funding is concentrated on the best researchers.

The Research Council will expand the framework for the Centres of Excellence (SFF) scheme to encompass more centres. Plans targeted towards encouraging increased participation in Horizon 2020 and escalating funding for top-modern research infrastructure must be implemented.

The Research Council is recommending an increase of NOK 339 million to cultivate more world-leading research groups. Key activities are the FRIPRO funding scheme for independent projects, Centres of Excellence (SFF) scheme, National Financing Initiative for Research Infrastructure (INFRASTRUKTUR), and mobilisation schemes targeting the EU.

Other priorities

Global and cultural change

Major global changes in economics, politics, ideology and power alliances have an impact on Norwegian national interests and foreign policy. Norway has committed itself to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals of eradicating poverty, combatting inequality and halting climate change by 2030.

There is a need for research that can shed light on foreign and development policy challenges related to democracy, human rights, ideology and international rule of law. Knowledge is needed to help to reduce poverty, counteract and prevent conflicts, and mitigate the impacts of humanitarian crises. Research that can promote lasting improvements in health and eliminate health disparities among poor people in low- and middle-income countries is vital.

Basic public funding for the research institute sector

The research institute sector plays a pivotal role in the Norwegian research and innovation system. Research institutes compete for funding nationally and internationally, including under the EU Framework Programmes. The research institutes are key stakeholders, serving as partners for the public and private sectors and as suppliers of expertise, research services and research-based knowledge for policy development.

The institutes facilitate access to research and academic expertise for the Norwegian business sector and public administration both at home and abroad. The research institutes apply public basic funding towards long-term knowledge and competence-building. Basic funding also enables the institutes to quality assure and disseminate research results, establish cooperation with the best national and international research groups, and compete on the international market.

The Research Council is recommending an increase of NOK 30 million to maintain the real value of the public basic funding for all categories of research institutes.

Written by:
Ingebjørg Aadland/Else Lie. Translation: Victoria Coleman/Connie Stultz
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