Norwegian roadmap for Research Infrastructure

Other infrastructure needs in the natural sciences and technology

Most research infrastructure needs in the natural sciences and technology are discussed in the area strategies that address national priority areas. This area strategy centres on research infrastructures not covered in those thematic area strategies.

Research objectives

The Government’s overall objectives for research and higher education (Norwegian pdf) are to strengthen competitiveness and innovation capacity, seek solutions to major societal challenges and to develop world-class scientific environments. As a consequence of globalisation, rapid technological development and increased digitalisation, the Government launched a revised long-term plan (Norwegian pdf) stipulating overall objectives and long-term priorities. One of these priorities is the field of enabling and industrial technologies, including a cross-sector escalation plan for technology, such as artificial intelligence (Norwegian pdf), which facilitates knowledge-based innovation and necessary restructuring in all segments of society. Research in the natural sciences and technology plays an important role in achieving these objectives. Basic research is an end in itself but can also be a prelude to ground-breaking innovations that are difficult to foresee. The white paper A greener, smarter and more innovative industry states that new materials must be used and processes must be changed, automated and digitalised as a step in maintaining an internationally leading Norwegian export industry. To strengthen its green competitiveness, Norway increasingly will have to compete on the strength of its knowledge. Research, innovation and technological development will be essential.

The Research Council’s targeted efforts in general natural sciences and technologies are mainly covered by the Portfolio Board for Natural Sciences and Technologies and the Portfolio Board for Enabling Technologies.

Existing research infrastructure

Well-equipped laboratories have been established at universities and research institutes, especially in physics, chemistry, biology and geosciences. The various subject areas require different types of research infrastructure. Common to all is the need to replace equipment periodically with newer and more advanced equipment in order to perform at the forefront of research. The National Financing Initiative for Research Infrastructure has helped to establish a number of national infrastructure collaborations for natural science and technology research where the research groups enjoy high international acclaim. International collaboration is particularly important for costly, large-scale scientific installations that cannot be financed and operated by one country alone. Norwegian participation gives researchers in Norway access to world-class equipment and data as well as the opportunity to collaborate with leading international researchers.

The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), where the universe’s tiniest components are revealed in high-energy particle collisions, is one of the world’s largest and most respected research centres. Norway is a member and participates in multiple experiments. CERN has established a European particle physics strategy which is an integral part of the ESFRI roadmap.

In the field of space research, investments have been made in ground-based instrumentation (including the European Incoherent SCATter Scientific Association (EISCAT), the Kjell Henriksen Observatory, the Andøya Space Center and the Svalbard Rocket Range (SvalRak)) that provides support to the Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System (SIOS). Norwegian research groups are also actively involved in realising the new EISCAT_3D radar system and the Grand Challenge Initiative Cusp. In astronomy, Norway is a member of the Nordic Optical Telescope Scientific Association and participates in the European Association for Solar Telescopes. Norwegian researchers also have access to observations from the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) research satellites.

In addition to laboratory facilities and Earth observation data from satellites, geoscience research requires access to aircraft, vessels and fixed stations as well as internationally coordinated expeditions and observation programmes. As the national contribution to ESFRI’s European Plate Observing System (EPOS) project, EPOS Norway has brought together Norwegian research infrastructures to engage in studies of geophysics.

Greater national expertise in synchrotron, electron and neutron sources, as well as good access to relevant infrastructures, are essential in fields such as material science and nanoscience, bioscience, medicine and pharmacy, geosciences and industrial applications.

Need for new infrastructure, upgrades and/or coordination

There is a need to develop new research infrastructure, but there is also a continuous need to upgrade existing research infrastructure with newer and more advanced equipment. Sometimes, an established research infrastructure can continue providing high-quality results if its older equipment is supplemented with devices to create new technology and new opportunities.

More storage and computing capacity, as well as capacity sharing, is needed if researchers in the natural sciences and technology are to store, organise and exploit collected data as effectively as possible. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning often require a combination of modern processors and powerful data-parallel accelerators, e.g. GPU capacity, and the expertise to utilise them, which is not part of a traditional high-performance computing facility. A sufficient level of investment in e-infrastructure that supports the development of experimental methods is therefore essential. The possibility of coordinating database systems across a variety of disciplines and simplifying access to physical collections are also important.

Research infrastructures that help us to generate unique new datasets can make it possible, in conjunction with other unique research platforms, to perform at the cutting edge of science in a range of fields. There is currently rapid development in drone technology that gives researchers new observation opportunities.

Operating research infrastructures in a sustainable manner takes coordination, task-sharing and national collaboration. Small but scientifically strong research groups should coordinate more with adjacent disciplines to make the research infrastructures more relevant and significant in a national context. National infrastructures must work together as an integrated system to fully take advantage of the investments made. As infrastructure components fall into place, they must be linked and made accessible nationally and internationally by means of capacity sharing.

Norwegian companies are engaged in an international technology race. Digitalisation affects the entire value chain, and new products, markets and business models are under development. When advanced technologies from different disciplines are combined, it becomes possible to manufacture products in completely new ways. National infrastructures that can assist industries with this shift are needed for the enabling technologies (biotechnology, nanotechnology, ICT and advanced production processes).

Interface with other areas

The natural sciences and technology area comprises many disciplines and extends across the other area strategies that address national priority areas. Many infrastructure needs in this area will in the same way also be important to many other areas, and vice versa.

RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURES RELATED TO NATURAL SCIENCES AND TECHNOLOGY

Project

Status

AMP Lab – National Laboratory for Advanced Metal Production and Recycling for the Future

Worthy of funding

EISCAT_3D – European Next Generation Incoherent Scatter radar 

ESFRI Landmark
 

LCH/CERN Enabling LHC Physics at Extreme Collision Rates PDF – 429 KB

ESFRI Landmark

EPOS – European Plate Observing System – Norway

ESFRI Landmark
 

ESS-Lund – European Spallation Source

ESFRI Landmark

THE GOLDSCHMIDT LABORATORY – INFRASTRUCTURE FOR GEOCHEMICAL, MICRO-STRUCTURAL, AND GEOCHRONOLOG

Under establishment/in operation

ManuLab – Norwegian Manufacturing Research Laboratory

Under establishment/in operation

NATIONAL GEOTEST SITES*

Funding period completed/in operation

OTHER RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURES ON THE ROADMAP RELEVANT TO NATURAL SCIENCES AND TECHNOLOGY

Project

Status

EISCAT_3D

ESFRI Landmark

* Infrastructures where the project period with Research Council funding has been concluded, or was scheduled to be concluded in 2019, do not have a separate project description on the roadmap. You will instead find a reference to the infrastructure's website or the Research Council's project bank.