Norwegian Roadmap for Research Infrastructure 2023

Part 2: Strategic basis

Basis for priorities 

This part of the roadmap describes research objectives, existing infrastructures, and possible future needs for research infrastructure within different thematic areas, subject areas, and technology areas. These descriptions are an important part of the decision basis for allocations to research infrastructure from the Research Council's budget and planning of future calls for research infrastructure. 

It is desirable that Part 2, together with Part 3, can contribute to an overview of the existing landscape of research infrastructures and future needs to achieve better coordination of infrastructures across disciplines and technology areas. The establishment of new research infrastructures must be assessed in relation to the opportunities provided by existing infrastructures. 

Classification 

In the division of subject thematic and technology areas, we have based our work on the division in the ESFRI roadmap, but have made some adjustments to address specific national needs. In addition, three overarching objectives are described. 

Overarching objectives: 

  • Sharing and reuse of research data 
  • International cooperation on research infrastructures 
  • Sustainability 

The areas and associated subareas: 

  • Technology and science 
    • Information- and communication technology 
    • Material-, process technology and basic natural sciences 
    • Energy and energy systems of the future 
    • Earth science, oceans, climate and environment 
  • Life science and health 
    • Bioresources 
    • Biotechnology 
    • Health and medicine 
  • Humanities and social sciences 
    • Humanities 
    • Social sciences 

Because infrastructure needs in different areas differ considerably in terms of types/categories of infrastructure, investment and operating costs, and the number and types of users, the descriptions will vary somewhat in length and level of detail. There will be some overlap between some of the sub-areas, and the classification shall not represent obstacles to cooperation on research infrastructure across disciplines and technology areas. An interdisciplinary approach is a prerequisite for solving many of the societal challenges and for succeeding in the development and utilisation of new technology and industries. Over the past few years, it has become evident that in order to address climate change, environmental sustainability, energy transition, migration management, health challenges and disease prevention, data on social behaviour and cultural practices (past and present) are indispensable along with the recognition of the importance of ethical, legal and societal issues. 

In addition to the area descriptions in the roadmap, the Government's long-term plan for research and higher education3 (the Long-term plan) and the Research Council's portfolio plans are important parts of the decision basis. This is illustrated in Figure 1. 

Figure 1 -  Relationship between the roadmap's areas/sub-areas and the Research Council's other portfolios, the Long-term plan and overall objectiveLong-term plan for research and higher education 2023-2032 (Long-term plan)Tekstboks

 

The long-term plan has been, and will continue to be, an important part of the decision basis for the Research Council's allocations to research infrastructure. The Long-Term Plan proposes three overarching objectives that apply to all subject areas, including six thematic priorities. The six thematic priorities are selected areas where the Government considers it particularly important that Norway invest strategically in research and higher education in the years ahead. 

The long-term plan encompasses a wide range of topics, disciplines and technology areas, and also provides some guidelines for areas that are to be given special attention. The need for investments in research infrastructure in all the priority areas has been clearly addressed, and in particular the need for infrastructure for handling data. 

The Research Council's portfolios 

It is a principle for INFRASTRUKTUR to invest in research infrastructure within topics and disciplines where research is funded. This underpins the objective that investment in research infrastructure shall be anchored in the needs of research today and in the future, and that the infrastructure will have a user group that ensures further utilisation and operation of the facilities.  

The Research Council's portfolios have their own portfolio plans that describe any knowledge needs and priorities. When evaluating applications for INFRASTRUKTUR, the administration will look at one or more of these to ensure that new infrastructures or further development and upgrading of existing infrastructures are based on research needs that can be funded through the Research Council's other policy instruments. 

Overarching objectives 

Sharing and reuse of research data 

Digitalisation and technology development contribute to society and research becoming increasingly data-driven. 

An expressed national goal in the white paper Data as a resource is to create value and create more new jobs, with data as a resource. It is an ambition to achieve more data sharing between the public and private sectors to enable new insights and innovation. It is also a political objective, both nationally and internationally, that data produced through publicly funded research shall be managed in accordance with the FAIR principles ("Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable"), as far as possible. This means sharing data in a way that safeguards ethical, privacy and security considerations, while making the data available to other researchers in a simple and accessible way – as open as possible, as closed as necessary. Achieving this requires a high degree of competence in the interface between law and ethics, technology and cyber security, secure data management and management, in research communities and at institutions. The events of recent years have shown that this competence is also particularly important in various crises, also within the public sector as a whole. 

Europe is in the process of establishing the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), which will be a coordinated network of FAIR data and related research services (see Part 1). The Long-term plan emphasises that Norwegian data infrastructures, services and research data must comply with the internationally established FAIR principles and be compatible with the international ones, and must be able to take into account future data growth and the need for compilation of data sources, both nationally and internationally. 

To enable safe and reliable sharing and reuse of research data, a secure and efficient data infrastructure is essential. The report from the Data Infrastructure Committee9 makes several recommendations related to the level of ambition for data infrastructures in Norway. These are set out in the Long-term plan and form the basis for the Government's further work on data infrastructure. Overall, both the Data Infrastructure Committee's report and the Long-term plan point to the importance of having a holistic approach to the development of data infrastructure, and there is a need to allocate sufficient resources to achieve this. 

In the report with recommendations from the Data Infrastructure Committee, data infrastructure includes: 

  • Basic, generic e-infrastructure that is a prerequisite for data-driven research. This includes physical infrastructure and software for analyzing and processing big data. 
  • Tools and services related to active use, sharing and reuse of data. 
  • Services for long-term retention and long-term data management. Infrastructure that offers long-term management can be general, interdisciplinary or subject-specific. 
  • Both generic and domain-specific/region-specific data infrastructures. 

Sustainability 

Environmental, social and economic sustainability is one of the overarching objectives of the Long-term plan. The Research Council's strategy for sustainability mentions some areas of particular relevance to the UN goals where Norway have advantages and opportunities, and where research and innovation are particularly important for addressing sustainability challenges. 

Circular economy is highlighted among the areas that contribute to business development that supports sustainability and green competitiveness. One of the goals is to facilitate research and technology development for circular resource management. This supports sustainable production, which entails reducing resource use, environmental degradation and greenhouse gas emissions, and will thus benefit both the environment and the economy.  

Developing holistic solutions for realising the green transition requires research and involvement from different disciplines. Research based in the natural sciences, technology, economics, humanities and social sciences must be seen in context, and the digital research infrastructure must facilitate access to data across disciplines. 

The SDGs also apply to the infrastructures themselves – in establishment, further development and operation. The INFRASTRUCTURE scheme is intended to encourage applications that aim to limit the environmental footprint of research infrastructures. 

International cooperation 

The need for updated research infrastructure characterises Europe's research policy at both national and pan-European level. Participation in European cooperation on research infrastructure is important both to attract top international researchers and to ensure that Norwegian professionals have access to the best research infrastructures available in Europe.  

Norway is involved in more than thirty European collaborations on research infrastructure and pays annual dues to be able to use these. This is important for Norwegian research, but at the same time there must be an ongoing cost-benefit assessment of membership in major new international infrastructures and of the need to maintain existing membership.  It is also important that investments in national infrastructure are seen in conjunction with and assessed in relation to the opportunities offered by Norwegian researchers through participation in and utilisation of international infrastructures. 

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