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.
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.