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Relationships with the host institution
The host institutions provide the infrastructure required to conduct research (laboratories, IT services, etc.) and support the centres’ activities. The relationship between centres and hosts are generally co-operative, and the co-location tends to favour cooperation with different departments. Box 9.2 provides an example of a CoE relationship with a host institution.
Box 9.2. The relationship with the host institution:
The example of ITQB Associated Laboratory
Various centres participate in the Institute of Chemical and Biological Technology ITQB AL: ITQB (New University of Lisbon); IBET (a non-profit organisation); IGC (a research institute of the Gulbenkian Foundation); and the Centre for Chronic Diseases (Medical School of the New University of Lisbon). The concern of the host is to ensure that all of the AL’s outputs are normalised to allow for benchmarking and impact assessment of the research performed. The host considers this information critical for the decisionmaking process, particularly for strengthening emerging areas.
One of the main constraints faced by CoEs is the difficulty of recruiting staff on a more permanent basis. The universities’ framework conditions hamper recruitment of new researchers for CoEs that lack legal independence. In the case of non-profit organisations, permanent and temporary staff regulations are based on private labour market laws, which are rigid in terms of the duration of contracts (maximum of three years for temporary contracts). This is considered insufficient for research activities. Medium-term contracts and fellowships are available, however, through an FCT initiative. Usually, the host does not provide direct research funds to the CoE but contributes with facilities and personnel who do not charge for their research time.
The CoEs are funded by the FCT’s multi-year funding programme. The financial support is divided into core funding for the centre’s main activities and programmatic funding. The core funding is calculated on the basis of a value per doctorate holder and therefore varies according to their total number. The programmatic funding is proposed by the panel on the basis of the budget requested and the centre’s proposed strategic plan; it aims to address the strategic development of the centre and to meet specific needs that evaluators consider important to fulfil the centre’s potential.
Most interviewees and survey respondents noted the flexibility of the multi-year funding in comparison to other forms of third-party funding, as it can be used for personnel, networking, diffusion activities, productivity bonus and management costs. However, they also noted the difficulty of transferring unspent budget to the following year. According to interviewees, the share of total funding from other sources to CoEs is usually quite substantial.
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