Home Management Promoting Research Excellence : New Approaches to Funding.
This chapter has presented the results of a survey to government agencies responsible for administering research excellence initiative (REI) funding for higher education and public research institutions. The data show that in OECD countries REIs are now widely used as a funding instrument; two-thirds of OECD countries now operate such schemes.32
They are a special type of government programme. Their programmatic nature is defined by their objective: REIs aim to raise the international reputation of domestic research institutions. The general strategy to reach this goal is to fund large, stable and well-equipped structures that cross established institutional, disciplinary, sectoral and national borders. The structures are established through a competitive, science-driven selection process in which excellence is the main criterion. Host and partner institutions are challenged to define and adjust their profiles in line with their opportunities to benefit from REI funding. In addition to funding research activities strictly speaking, REIs support a host of research-related measures, such as the improvement or extension of physical infrastructure, the recruitment of outstanding researchers from abroad, and structured training of early-stage researchers. The precise focus of REIs often reflects the political priorities defined in national innovation strategies.
Ministries and responsible public funding bodies view REIs positively. The objectives of these programmes are largely reported to have been achieved. Among other things, new lines of research have opened up, new patterns of interdisciplinary research have been established, the development of human capital has been strengthened, and concentration processes have generally led to enhanced research capacities. In some countries, these results are supported by systematic evaluations of research centres funded by REIs.
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