Norway's first 14 Centres for Research-based Innovation (SFI) have been evaluated, half-way through their maximum eight-year period of operation. All of them were given a positive evaluation.
The first SFI centres were selected in June 2006 and started up their activities in spring 2007.
The SFI scheme requires each centre to undergo evaluation before the end of the fourth year. The evaluation forms the basis for the decision regarding whether to continue the individual centre for the remainder of the total eight-year period or to terminate the centre's activities after five years.
Positive evaluation of the scheme and the individual centres
The SFI scheme as such also received high marks in the overall evaluation. The contracts for nine of the centres were extended without any further reservations, while five centres must submit plans for following up the recommendations of the evaluation before their contracts can be renewed for the final three-year period. None of the centres were recommended terminated.
Impressed the experts
The evaluation was carried out under the auspices of the Research Council of Norway by international experts with expertise within the scientific areas covered by the centres as well as in organisation and management of competence centres. The evaluation team was led by Professor Per Stenius (Sweden/Finland).
In its report the evaluation team indicated its general impression of the SFI centres as follows:
The achievements of the Centres were generally impressive. They engage highly competent scientists, many of them with established international recognition, as well as clever and enthusiastic students. Overall, the Centres are well supported by the host universities, institutes and industry. They are engaged in application-oriented research that demonstrably has benefitted supporting industries and organisations in the public sector by providing innovative ideas for enhancement of processes and development of improved or new products.
The evaluation encompassed the following points:
- research results
- plans for continuation of centre activities
- organisation, management and cooperation
- potential for innovation and knowledge transfer
- gender equality
- future plans once funding from the Research Council is discontinued
"The evaluation confirms that, on the whole, the SFI scheme and the individual centres can be considered a success. The evaluation also provides constructive input both to the individual centres and to the Research Council," says Director General of the Research Council Arvid Hallén.
"The Research Council will derive tremendous benefit from the mid-term evaluation for the further development of the SFI scheme and other centre schemes."