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REIs in contrast to institutional core funding and project funding

This section compares REIs with two more prevalent forms of funding, institutional core funding and project funding. REIs share elements of both these forms of funding, but also combine them in view of a particular definition of objectives and further characteristics. They should therefore be viewed as a comprehensive funding instrument in their own right.

Institutional core funding

Institutional core funding (Box, 2010, p.86) is funding for universities and research organisations that is not directly tied to projects or programmes. It enables institutions to fulfil their core tasks. This form of funding is generally provided by governments to institutions as a whole, rather than to specific programmes or units, and it may have competitive elements. Institutional funding can be arranged in several ways, e.g. by line item budgeting with annual incremental adjustments, or by formula-based funding models, in which the block grant allocation is influenced by indicators, e.g. of equipment, of staffing, number of students enrolled, and research or teaching output. Generally speaking, the ex post measurement of performance is an important basis of assessment of institutional core funding.6

Further, funders and recipients of funding may use target and performance agreements to negotiate not only what and how they perform, but also what equipment and staffing they require. The tie-in between performance and funding may vary.

Institutional core funding (as described here) and REI funding share the fact that both tend towards funding longer-term research and can address institutions as a whole. However, they differ in that institutional core funding does not require formal application. All institutionally funded organisations are necessarily tied to annual (and sometimes longer) budget rounds, whereas REI funding requires submission of an application and participation is not obligatory. Any clear-cut competitive elements in institutional core funding take the shape of mandatory quantitative schemes for measuring previous performance. Also, funding for research institutions via institutional core funding is not generally tied to any programme-like specifications, except in some cases via target agreements. REIs, in contrast, always set science-policy objectives for successful applications.

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