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Funding schemes

REIs generally provide guidance, directives and detailed obligations regarding the financial relationship between the hosts and the financed CoE. Figure 4.5 shows that 40% of HIs indicated that the terms of the REI required them to cover at least some part of the costs related to the activities of the CoE, 28% stated that they were obliged to co-finance the CoE, and 13% that the co-financing requirement was a pre-condition for co-operation. However, some 49% of hosts reported that their institution chose to allocate additional funds to the hosted CoE on a voluntary basis so as to enhance its research performance and/or give it further potential for development. This can be seen as a direct financial investment in the research activities of the CoEs.

Figure 4.5. REIs’ funding requirements, HIs and CoEs

Source: OECD/RIHR Survey to Host Institutions, 2012.

Host institutions reported a variety of different schemes to finance CoEs. Figure 4.6 shows that 89% of the total sample of HIs provide equipment and infrastructure to the CoEs free of charge, while 77% contribute to the running of the research activities and 57% to the overhead costs. Only 44% of HIs provide start-up funds to the hosted CoEs.

In Norway, HIs are required to cover infrastructure and overhead costs for the CoEs (see Chapter 8). However, their practices vary: some interpret co-funding literally and provide funding from their own budgets, others use infrastructure as their co-funding. The former practice created tensions in some cases since the support given to the CoEs came at the expense of other research groups in the department. Survey responses show that overhead and running costs paid for by HIs range from administration and basic infrastructure to larger expenditures on staff positions, facilities and technical instruments used by the CoE.

There are marked differences in the financing methods preferred by HIs that voluntarily provide financial contributions to the activities of the CoEs (i.e. 49% of respondents, Figure 4.5). The results in Figure 4.6 show that 59% do so through start-up funding (44% in the overall HI sample) as well as by contributing to the running costs of the CoEs (89% of HIs voluntarily providing financial contribution). The vast majority of HIs that voluntarily support CoEs also provide equipment and infrastructure free of charge (92%). Co-financing of externally funded research projects was also mentioned as one way to embed the work of the CoE within the host institution. In Portugal, associated laboratories (CoEs) sometimes make use of start-up funding and then convert the intellectual property rights of the research carried out by the CoE into start-up equity (see Chapter 9).

Figure 4.6. Funding schemes

Note: HIs voluntarily providing financial contributions represent 49% of the total HI sample; see Figure 4.5. Source: OECD/RIHR Survey to Host Institutions, 2012.

Direct financial transfers are not the only method used by HIs to support the activities of CoEs. Support for CoEs’ research activities is also provided in ways that do not involve any explicit financial contribution. Figure 4.7 shows that up to 95% of HIs support CoEs by providing the necessary physical infrastructure to carry out their research. Approximately 53% also support CoEs’ research activities by providing the possibility, in specific cases, of relieving researchers from administrative tasks, and 41% of relieving them from teaching obligations to allow them to conduct research on a fulltime basis.4 Up to 49% of HIs also reported supporting researchers by providing a more stable work relationship with the host through research contracts that go beyond the lifespan of the envisaged life of the CoE.5

Differences in the results can be observed when the sample is split into HIs hosting a larger/smaller number of CoEs. HIsHCoE are less prone to offer employees a labour contract that goes beyond the lifespan of the CoEs, probably owing to the difficulty of making such a commitment for the large number of researchers employed by many hosted CoEs. However, they relieve researchers from administrative tasks and teaching obligations more frequently than in the total sample.

Survey responses also indicate that support arrangements often depend on the needs of the project. Some support arrangements include providing access to university functions such as technology transfer offices, and one institution has a dedicated support function for research institutes and CoEs. Some respondent institutions also indicated that they make academic appointments in strategic areas in order to support the CoE and the host department.

Figure 4.7. Other means of support for CoEs’ activities

Note: * The results change significantly when Japanese host institutions (HIs) are dropped from the sample. The share of HIs that relieve researchers from administrative tasks drops from 53% to 39%, while the share of HIs that offer employees contracts beyond the lifespan of the CoE rises from 49% to 67%. Other items change only slightly. HIs hosting three or more CoEs are labelled HIsHCoE. HIs hosting two or fewer CoEs are labelled HIsLCoE. The average number of hosted CoEs is 2.6

Source: OECD/RIHR Survey to Host Institutions, 2012.

The survey also asked how HIs handle and manage the CoE after the REI ends. The responses reveal that the establishment of a CoE is not viewed as a one-off experience but as an important component of the HI’s overall activity. Figure 4.8 shows that 72% of HIs are keen to raise funds from third parties after REI funding expires in order to continue the research carried out by the CoE. Similarly, most HIs plan either to prolong the positions of the CoE members (52%) and/or to devise suitable arrangements concerning transitional funding (51%) when the REI ends, while 61% plan to develop a strategy to integrate the CoE in the host structure.

The results show interesting differences when responses are disaggregated by groups of HIs. The HIsHCoE are on average less prone than HIsLCoE to prolong or integrate the existing CoEs into the HI’s structure by either looking for third-party funds (58% of HIsHCoE and 80% of HIsLCoE) or transitional funding arrangements (38% of HIsHCoE and 57% of HIsLCoE). This is probably due to the higher burden that hosting a larger number of CoEs might impose on the administration and budget of HIs.

Figure 4.8. Arrangements for the end of the REI

Note: HIs hosting three or more CoEs are labelled HIsHCoE. HIs hosting two or less CoEs are labelled HIsLCoE. The average number of hosted CoEs is 2.6.

Source: OECD/RIHR Survey to Host Institutions, 2012.

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