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Relative financial importance and concentration of REIs

This section considers REIs as competitive and selective funding instruments designed to achieve excellence in research. Figure 2.7 cross-references their relative share of research funding with their selectivity (i.e. concentration) on the basis of the relative numbers of researchers. To calculate selectivity (horizontal axis), the number of selected centres is related to a size dimension for the national research system (as a denominator). The number of researchers in the funded centres in relation to the number in the national system as a whole is used as a proxy for size, since the latter could have been part of a centre. The number of researchers in a country is likely related to the number of possible centres. On this measure, the selectivity index of the South Korean Brain Korea 21 with 517 centres is 72% (i.e. 72% of all researchers receive funding via this REI) and that of Germany’s Excellence Initiative with 85 centres it is 2.5%.

The index for the share of funding allocated via an REI (vertical axis) relates the annual expenditure on an REI to the total annual expenditure on R&D (i.e. HERD plus GOVERD). It shows that REIs account for more than 3.1% of government funding of R&D (i.e. HERD plus GOVERD) only in Estonia (CoE), Portugal (Multi-year funding programme), Slovenia (CoE) and Ireland (PRTLI-4).

The schemes that fund a relatively high number of centres are comparatively less selective funding instruments. Other REIs are much more selective (bottom left-hand quadrant), but account for relatively low shares of government R&D funding. The German Excellence Initiative is a highly selective funding instrument (horizontal axis) with a relatively high funding impact (vertical axis) and a large amount of annual funding per research unit (as shown by the size of the bubble - see also Annex 2.A1, Table 2A.1.2).

At the same time, it can be misleading to consider only direct REI funding when studying the financial situation of REI centres, given that many also attract considerable funds from other sources. For example, the Australian ARC Centres of Excellence draw on average only about a quarter of their resources from the scheme itself; the rest is secured from elsewhere. Similarly, the direct financial contribution of the Academy of Finland to their CoE centres was 12-16% in the funding period 2000-07, and for some centres, it was as low as 4% (Aksnes et al., 2012, p. 30ff.). These figures show that the scope of an REI cannot be measured solely in terms of funding from the scheme.

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