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Funding and internal governance of the Norwegian CoEs

The RCN provides each centre with between NOK 8 million and NOK 20 million a year; the average is NOK 12.8 million. The RCN requires co-funding from the host institution, which defines the characteristics of these funds. Co-funding may include infrastructure investments, funds from its own budget or external grants. Hosts are required to cover infrastructure and overhead costs for the CoEs. However, the practices of hosts vary. While some interpret co-funding literally and provide funding from their own budgets, others define infrastructure as their co-funding. The first strategy has resulted in organisational tensions. Some CoEs appear to have been formed at the expense of other research groups in the same department, and some CoEs have become large and unmanageable. Based on experience so far, it seems that host institutions now have two strategies: i) rewarding CoEs through additional funding; and ii) using infrastructure for co-funding in order to avoid organisational tensions. These two strategies apply primarily to the universities. Research institutes face other types of challenges, especially if they are a partner in a CoE rather than the host. A host institution can define infrastructure as co-funding, but partners have to provide funds. This is a challenge owing to the relatively low basic funding of research institutes.

In some fields, the CoE grant is a small percentage of the CoE’s overall budget; on average, it is 20%. There are large differences between the public research organisations (PROs) and between research fields. CoE funding represents most of the budget for CoEs in the humanities and the social sciences, and for CoEs hosted by research institutes. In the life sciences, the CoE grant is important, but represents a relatively small share of the total budget. These centres tend to be large; one has more than 200 researchers. Table 8.1 shows the total yearly funding from the scheme per research area and the average funding for each centre. The large number of centres in the geosciences reflects the Norwegian context.

Table 8.1. Yearly total and average funding of Norwegian CoEs, by fields

Field

Number of CoEs

Annual NOK (million) from the CoE scheme

Total funding

Average funding per CoE

Geosciences

6

79.3

13.2

Engineering

5

64.7

12.9

Life sciences

12

169.5

14.1

Hum & social sciences

7

77.9

11.1

Natural sciences

4

54.6

13.6

Notes: Field categorisation by NIFU. Includes the three first CoE generations, budget years 2009 and 2013; see notes to Table 8.2.

Source: RCN web pages, www.forskningsradet.no/en/Home page/1177315753906.

The scheme’s success has led to an increase in the CoE budget, with a substantial increase in funds from the first to the third generation (Table 8.2).

Table 8.2. Yearly total and average funding of Norwegian CoEs

CoE generation

Number of CoEs

NOK (million) from the CoE scheme

Total funding

Average funding per CoE

2003

13

151.2

11.6

2007

8

87.8

11.0

2013

13

207.0

16.0

Notes: Current prices. Figures for the 2003 and 2007 generations are for budget year 2009. (Langfeldt et al. 2010). Numbers for the 2013 generation are for budget year 2013

Source: RCN web pages, www.forskningsradet.no/en/Home page/1177315753906.

The selected centres are expected to generate enough additional funding to be selfsufficient after the termination of the CoE grant. However, access to alternative grants varies among fields. While a life sciences centre might have a number of funding opportunities, these seem to be rather limited in fields such as the humanities, which is composed of many rather specialised subjects. Hence, some centres will tend to continue at the same level of activity after the grant period, while others will have to scale down their activities considerably.

 
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