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Responsibility for managing REIs

While REIs are initiated by national governments, the management of the selection process as well as the budgeted funds is frequently the responsibility of specialised public funding bodies. These bodies, often called “research councils”, specialise in administering scientific and academic programmes of various types, of which REIs are usually only one. Consequently, although REIs are singled out as a separate type of funding in this report, they are usually components of a broader funding rationale, which is embodied in the programme portfolios administered by these agencies. A comprehensive understanding of REIs would require an analysis of their place in these funding portfolios, which is beyond the scope of this report. However, a few examples of the organisational integration of REIs are given to sketch various possibilities.

One agency, several REIs: In Norway, all three REIs discussed in this report (CoE, CRI and CEER) are run by the Research Council of Norway, which has wide-ranging responsibilities for research funding in Norway. All three REIs form part of a designated sub-category of the Council’s funding portfolio, called “centre schemes”. In Japan, both the Global COE and the WPI scheme are run by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, although due to the different goals of the two, they are presented as belonging to distinct types of funding: Whereas the Global COE scheme is presented in a family of programmes called “Support for University Reform”, the WPI scheme is in a solitary category named “Support for Establishing Top World-level Research Centres”.

  • Several agencies, several REIs: In Ireland, the CSET scheme is run by Science Foundation Ireland, which deals with the country’s priority areas of research (biotechnology, information and communication technology, and sustainable energy and energy-efficient technologies). Ireland’s more general REI, PRTLI, is administered by the Higher Education Authority, the general funding and advisory body for universities and other HEIs.
  • Several agencies, one REI: In some cases, the launch of an REI gives rise to new co-operation among funding bodies. In Germany, both the German Research Foundation (mainly a science funding body) and the German Council for Science and Humanities (mainly an advisory body) are involved in managing the Excellence Initiative. The division of labour between the two is organised in terms of separate responsibilities for different funding lines. In Sweden, the SRA scheme is the result of co-operation by five organisations: the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Energy Agency, the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research FAS, the Swedish Research Council Formas, and the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems VINNOVA.26 This shows that even if competitive research funding is decentralised, a central REI may still be established through collaboration by funding bodies.
  • REIs under direct supervision of the ministry: In eastern Europe (Estonia, Poland, the Russian Federation, Slovenia) and in the German federal states of Thuringia and Hesse, the ministries in charge of the REIs do not delegate the task to a funding agency but appoint a programme committee to conduct the selection of centres directly.

Internal structure of REIs

REIs can be differentiated according to their administration but also their internal structure. They can be a stand-alone scheme with only one line of allocation; they can have several lines of funding; or they can be building blocks in a more comprehensive funding scheme.

 
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