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NOK 500 million for new research equipment

This year’s large-scale allocation will give Norway 16 new, modern and essential research infrastructures in the form of laboratories, databases and scientific equipment. The infrastructure will lay the basis for trailblazing research, future value creation and attractive research and education institutions.

Photo: Thomas Haugersveen/Statsministerens kontor Minister of Education and Research Torbjørn Røe Isaksen (Photo: Thomas Haugersveen, Statsministerens kontor) Among the 16 new research infrastructures that will receive funding from the Research Council of Norway from 2014 are a language lab, a wave tank, a petroleum laboratory, a centre for gene sequencing and a laboratory packed with modern medical technology. With the current allocation of NOK 505 million, the Research Council has awarded a total of NOK 1.5 billion for scientific equipment since the Ministry of Education and Research first earmarked allocations for research infrastructure in 2009.

“The Government wishes to increase investment in research and attaches importance to a long-term perspective in research policy,” says Minister of Education and Research Torbjørn Røe Isaksen in connection with the allocation. “Society will need more, not less, knowledge over time, and it is crucial that we are as well-prepared as possible to face coming challenges.”

Realising strategically important, scientifically high-calibre projects

There are still considerable unmet needs for equipment in Norwegian research. Seventy grant applications, seeking a total of nearly NOK 3 billion, were submitted in response to the 2012 funding announcement.

Photo: Sverre Jarild Modern research infrastructure is vital to building dynamic research communities in areas of strategic importance for Norway, says Arvid Hallen (Photo: Sverre Jarild) Several of the projects that are now being realised have been listed on the Norwegian Roadmap for Research Infrastructure for four years. The roadmap provides an overview of investment-ready infrastructure projects that have already been assessed as strategically important and scientifically high-calibre.

“Modern research infrastructure is vital to building dynamic research communities in areas of strategic importance for Norway, such as health, energy and climate research. Investments also strengthen the position of some of the country’s most prominent researchers and boost their international influence. With modern infrastructure in place, Norway is better equipped to attract talented researchers and win funding under the EU framework programme,” says Director General of the Research Council of Norway, Arvid Hallén.

Access to state-of-the-art laboratories, equipment and databases is critical for trailblazing research and future value creation, as well as for ensuring a high standard of quality at education institutions.

“There is a strong correlation between quality in research and quality in education. The world’s leading institutions for higher education are also home to the best research groups, with close links between research and education,” adds Mr Hallén.

Priority to health, the bioeconomy, energy, climate and the environment

In the funding announcement, the Research Council stated that priority would be given to projects in the areas of health and welfare, the bioeconomy, climate and the environment, and energy and environment-friendly technology. However, infrastructure of particularly high calibre and strategic relevance, regardless of research area, was also to be considered for funding.

Helse Health and welfare

The projects granted funding in the area of health and welfare are the Health Registries for Research (HELSEREGISTRE) in Bergen, St. Olavs Hospital’s Operating Room of the Future (NorMIT) in Trondheim, and the National Historical Population Register for Norway 1800-2020 (HISTREG) in Tromsø. Altogether, the Research Council proposes to invest NOK 115 million in these projects.

Energi Energy and environment-friendly technology

Some NOK 74 million is being invested in research infrastructures involving the fields of energy, environment-friendly technology and climate research. Multiphase flow laboratories (MULTIPHASE), a smart grid laboratory, and the CEDREN laboratory for renewable energy research were all awarded grants under the funding announcement.

Himmel Climate and the environment

Funding was awarded to three infrastructures within the field of climate and environmental research: the Norwegian Marine Robotics Facility (NORMAR), the Norwegian Barcode of Life Network (NorBOL), and the Earth Surface Sediment Laboratory (EARTHLAB). Together, the three will receive a total of some NOK 87 million.

dna The bioeconomy

Two projects addressing the bioeconomy are also on the list of research infrastructures that will receive funding from 2014. The Norwegian Sequencing Centre (NSC-II) and the Norwegian Biorefinery Laboratory (NorBioLab) will combined receive roughly NOK 80 million.

data Major strategic importance

Several other research infrastructures of particularly great strategic importance for Norwegian research will also be financed from 2014. These are the MARINTEK laboratories, the language lab (LIA) at the University of Oslo, a new, Norwegian nuclear magnetic resonance platform (NNP), the NorStore national data storage facility, and the Oslo Geomagnetic Laboratory (OGL).

Several of the projects are of relevance to more than one scientific area.

None of the grant proposals involving participation in pan-European infrastructures (projects on the ESFRI Roadmap) were awarded funding in this round. However, the Research Council may provide some support for Norwegian participation in further planning activities once EU funding for the preparatory phase has been terminated. The Research Council’s open-ended call for proposals “Support for Norwegian participation in establishing research infrastructure on the ESFRI Roadmap 2010” will be expanded for this purpose.

Placing new projects on the roadmap

All projects that advanced to phase 2 of the application review process will be assessed for inclusion on the updated Norwegian Roadmap for Research Infrastructure. A total of 36 proposals – 29 for large-scale infrastructure projects and seven for databases – advanced to phase 2.

The updated roadmap will be published on the Research Council’s website at the beginning of 2014.

Written by:
Synnøve Bolstad/Else Lie. Translation: Victoria Coleman/Carol B. Eckmann
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