The new Government white paper ("Long-term perspectives - knowledge provides opportunity") provides a sound basis for further developing the Norwegian research and innovation system, according to the Research Council of Norway.
In its consultative statement to the Standing Committee on Education, Research and Church Affairs, the Research Council states it is pleased with the proposal in the new white paper to establish a long-term national plan for research. However, the Council would like to have seen more concrete details set out for this plan.
In the Research Council's opinion, the new white paper on research should also have signalled greater focus on promoting a more offensive approach to industry-oriented research.
Long-term plan an important instrument
"A long-term plan can emerge as a vital instrument of Norwegian research policy," states Director General of the Research Council, Arvid Hallén, in a comment.
Mr Hallén is concerned with the design of such a plan. "The plan must encompass the entire spectrum of publicly funded research and provide binding guidelines for the annual budget," he says. In the view of the Research Council, the new white paper should have provided a more specific framework for establishing the proposed plan.
More focus on industry-oriented research
According to the Director General the white paper would have benefitted from more focus on the need to promote research activity in trade and industry.
"The white paper could have used the positive evaluations of the existing industry-oriented funding instruments to illustrate the importance of enhancing and expanding instruments to trigger more R&D activity in trade and industry and help to meet the challenge of increasing the private funding to two percent of the GDP. This is why the Research Council has proposed strengthening such instruments as the SkatteFUNN Tax Incentive Scheme, the Industrial Ph.D. scheme, and research in key thematic and technology areas," he concludes.
Welcomes funding system review
"The proposed comprehensive review of the system for funding higher education and research must take into account that the external allocations to the institutions from funders such as the Research Council are important elements in promoting scientific renewal, quality and national research priorities," asserts Mr Hallén.
The white paper sets out specific requirements and expectations to ensure that universities and university colleges have a strategy-oriented board of directors with robust decision-making capacity, and a professional administration that establishes clear-cut priorities for activities at the institutions. This echoes the Research Council's input in the process leading up to the white paper. The Research Council believes that these measures will enhance the ability of the institutions to act as autonomous social institutions and better enable them cooperate effectively with both the business sector and society at large.