A robust budget for research
The Norwegian Government has proposed to increase public funding of research activity to the equivalent of one per cent of Norway's GDP in the next five years. The budget proposal also includes significant growth in funding to promote world-leading research groups, a knowledge-based and competitive industrial sector, and internationalisation measures. The Government presented its budget proposal for research for 2015 on 8 October 2014.
"This is a robust, forward-looking, national budget proposal that can be seen as an important first step in implementing the long-term plan for research that the Government also presented today," says Director General of the Research Council of Norway, Arvid Hallén.
Can make Norway a world leader
The Government's research budget entails a major expansion of measures for infrastructure and internationalisation, industry-oriented research and establishment of world-leading research groups. The priority focus areas are closely aligned with key priorities in the Research Council's own budget proposal.
"Now we can elevate Norway to a new level as a research nation. When the Government commits itself to enhancing the quality of Norwegian research over time, we know we will get results. We've seen this illustrated clearly this week, with the award of the Nobel Prize in Physiology to brain researchers May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser. The new Nobel Laureates have benefitted from a stable framework and solid, reliable, long-term funding, among other things via infrastructure financing and the Centres of Excellence (SFF) scheme. In fact, one of our goals in establishing the SFF scheme was for Norway to win a Nobel Prize," continues Mr Hallén.
Long-term plan with clear priorities and target figures
The Research Council has eagerly awaited the 10-year prioritisation plan for Norwegian research, which the Government also presented on 8 October.
"The Government's long-term plan involves a quantified escalation of funding for key research objectives," explains Mr Hallén. "Among other things, by 2018 support will be provided for 500 new research fellowships and an NOK 400 million increase allocations to Norwegian research infrastructure. Another NOK 400 million will be allocated for mobility grants for EU research."
"We have noted that the thematic priority areas specified in the long-term plan have been given little priority in the 2015 budget, and some thematic research areas are even facing reductions. This applies to climate and environmental research, where there is still a great need for knowledge. However, the long-term plan provides a basis for growth in these areas in budgets to come."
"It is a milestone to finally have the long-term plan in place, along with the predictability it provides. This will make Norwegian research better," Mr Hallén states.
"The climate policy agreement reached in the Storting in 2008 led to a long-term, binding escalation plan for research on environment-friendly energy, which has in turn led to significant value creation for society. It is a good example of the importance of long-term thinking. The long-term plan will be a critical part of our efforts to boost Norwegian research over the next ten years. We have high expectations for what the long-term plan will trigger in the way of activities and results within the research community," concludes the Director General.
Budget in keeping with Research Council priorities
Altogether, the Government's proposed 2015 budget for research represents a nominal growth of NOK 2.1 billion, from NOK 27.9 billion to NOK 30 billion. In addition, the Government will expand the SkatteFUNN Tax Incentive Scheme considerably.
The priorities in the budget are in conformance with many of the Research Council's key research priorities. Items that will directly affect funding via the Research Council include:
NOK 160 million increase for measures to promote world-leading research groups, distributed as follows:
NOK 100 million for infrastructure financing;
NOK 60 million for the FRIPRO funding scheme for independent projects.
NOK 115 million increase to promote Norwegian participation in European research cooperation, distributed as follows:
NOK 85 million to the STIM-EU scheme;
NOK 30 million to other types of support to increase participation in EU projects.
NOK 120 million to strengthen research activity and innovation capacity in Norwegian trade and industry, distributed as follows:
NOK 70 million to the Programme for User-driven Research-based Innovation (BIA);
NOK 20 million to the programme Commercialising R&D Results (FORNY2020);
NOK 30 million to activities relating to enabling technologies.
The financial framework for the SkatteFUNN Scheme will be expanded by an estimated NOK 120 million next year.