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Status in Norway in 2018

The National Financing Initiative for Research Infrastructure has issued five calls for proposals in the period 2009‒2016. A total of 650 grant applications have been reviewed and roughly 100 infrastructure projects have been granted funding for a total allocation of over NOK 5 billion. Funding decisions have been made after an application review process based on scientific assessments of each infrastructure’s impact for the research activities that would utilise it, combined with an overall strategic assessment.

These allocations support the Government’s Long-term plan for research and higher education 2015–2024.  All the investments in infrastructures of national importance facilitate development of world-leading expert communities. Figure 1 shows the investments within each of the Long-term plan’s thematic priorities for each of the five calls issued thus far. Several of the infrastructures are highly relevant for more than one area, which is why the sum of the columns for each priority area is higher than the actual total investments.

For all five calls, the total amount of funding sought was far higher than the total amount allocated. This indicates a great need for long-term predictability in the Research Council’s allocations for research infrastructure. Many of the equipment facilities comprise technically advanced instruments that become obsolete quickly (after 5‒10 years), requiring continual upgrading and renewal. Thus, an increasing proportion of allocations under the National Financing Initiative for Research Infrastructure goes to upgrading and renewal of existing national research infrastructure. At the same time, the strategic review of the various areas on the Norwegian Roadmap for Research Infrastructure and the volume of received grant applications indicates there is still a significant need for investment in an array of entirely new infrastructures.

Table 1: Number of grant applications, total amount sought and amounts allocated under the five INFRASTRUKTUR calls for proposals.

Call for proposals Number of grant applications Amount sought*
​[NOK mill]
Number of applic. awarded funding Amount allocated*
[NOK mill]

allocated/ sought

2009 250 6500 22 474 8 %
2010 150 4000 18 501 13 %
2012 70 2700 16 505 19 %
2014 88 4500 31 1378 31 %
2016 92 5700 20 1000 18 %


Figure 1. Allocations under the National Financing Initiative for Research Infrastructure within the priority areas set out in the Norwegian Government’s Long-term plan for research and higher education 2015–2024. The investment period is typically five years. The columns show amounts allocated for each area under each of the five annual calls. 

The Government’s National strategy on access to and sharing of research data (2017) emphasises that open access to the use and reuse of research data requires specially adapted research infrastructure. In the period 2009‒2016, the Research Council invested more than NOK 1 billion in about 20 infrastructures whose entire purpose, or a significant part of it, is data management. This includes both generic and subject-specific data infrastructures, e-infrastructures, scientific databases and collections, and services for method development and data analysis. Applications to the National Financing Initiative for Research Infrastructure indicated that needs for data infrastructure for the management and accessibility of data are increasing in most fields. There are also substantial costs associated with continually developing knowledge-based data infrastructures to meet the needs of researchers and make it possible to use collected data in important subject fields and thematic areas.

The consistently high volume of grant applications under the National Financing Initiative for Research Infrastructure and the high relevance of the applications for Norwegian R&D priority areas show that there is still a large, unmet need for research infrastructure of national importance in Norway.

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