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Allocating NOK 1.3 billion for research infrastructure

The 29 winning projects in the competition for research infrastructure funding range from a large facility comprising a test rig for the petroleum industry, to a network of subsea sensors off Vesterålen and Lofoten, to advanced microscopes and sequencing equipment, to a database for Norwegian Medieval Latin, to infrastructure for using video materials in research. Over half the total sum to be invested, roughly NOK 700 million, will go to research facilities of particular relevance for industry-oriented research.

“This is by far the most industry-relevant allocation of funding for research equipment, laboratories and databases that has ever been awarded,” says Acting Minister of Education and Research Elisabeth Aspaker. “We need to promote a knowledge-intensive industrial sector, and it is research and knowledge that can give Norway a competitive advantage.”

We are pleased that the Government is further expanding allocations for scientific equipment over the next five years, says Arvid Hallen. (Photo: Sverre Jarild) The nearly NOK 1.3 billion is the largest infrastructure investment ever allocated by the Research Council.

“The Research Council budget for equipment has increased substantially in recent years,” says Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council. “We are pleased that the Government is further expanding allocations for scientific equipment over the next five years, as they have signalled in the Long-term plan for research and higher education 2015–2024. This means that many databases, laboratories and research facilities of major strategic significance to Norwegian research activities can now be established more quickly than we had planned.”

Funds to 29 projects of major strategic importance

This year’s allocation is the fourth such investment under the National Financing Initiative for Research Infrastructure. The objective of the initiative is to provide funding for research infrastructure of national importance. This refers to infrastructure components that:

  • are of widespread national interest;
  • will lay a foundation for internationally cutting-edge research;
  • will be available in only one or a few locations in Norway (as a general rule);
  • will be made accessible to relevant researchers and industries.

The table below shows the projects that have been invited to enter into contract negotiations with the Research Council and the starting-point sums (in NOK thousands) for negotiations. Please see the link on the right for a table with expanded names for the acronyms.

Project number

Project title

Applicant consortium

Contract negotiations starting point

245464

Biobank Norway - a national research infrastructure for clinical and population based biobanks

NTNU (LIFANDIS AS, HELSE VEST, UiB, UiT, OUS, KREFTREG, HELSE SØ, HELSE NORD, NTNU, UiO, FHI, HELSE MN)

80 000

245638

Climate-Ecological Observatory for Arctic Tundra (COAT)

UiT (Bioforsk, UNIS, NINA, NPI, NTNU, Met.no, HiH, UiO)

29 788

245663

Norwegian Zero Emission Building Laboratory

NTNU (SINTEF)

63 000

245678

Norwegian Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Centre

SINTEF (NTNU, IFE, HiST)

25 990

245699

Reconfigurable Radio Network Platform

NTNU (UiA, Trådløse Trondheim AS)

9 751

245717

Motion Laboratory

UiA (GCE NODE Norwegian Offshore & Drilling Engineering, CMR)

7 869

245744

Norwegian laboratory for silicon-based solar cell technology

SINTEF (NTNU, SINTEF MK, UiO, IFE)

30 000

245763

European Plate Observing System - Norway

UiB (Stiftelsen NORSAR, Statens kartverk, NGU, UiO, CMR)

45 000

245796

E-INFRA 2014 – a national e-Infrastructure for science

Uninett Sigma2 AS (UiT, UiO, NTNU, UiB)

60 000

245816

Digital corpus and dictionary of Norwegian Medieval Latin

DET NORSKE VIDENSKAPSAKADEMI (NASJONALBIBL)

7 763

245822

ECCSEL Norway CCS RI - Phase 2 – The Norwegian node of ECCSEL

NTNU (SINTEF ENERGI, SINTEF MK, SINTEF PETR, IFE

150 000

245828

Norwegian Macromolecular Crystallography Consortium

UiT (UiB, NMBU, UiO, OUS)

28 200

245843

Lofoten-Vesterålen cabled observatory

IMR (FFI, Uni Research, UiB, IMR, STATOIL, Norwegian Fishermen’s Assoc., UiT, SINTEF IKT, CMR, NERSC, NCE Subsea, Jacobs Univ. Bremen)

60 000

245851

eInfrastructure for VIdeo Research

UiO (NSD)

9 743

245876

Norwegian Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (NorCRIN)

ST OLAV (HELSE BERGEN HF, University Hospital of North Norway, Akershus University Hospital, OUS, Stavanger University Hospital)

50 000

245882

New Generation Scintillator Detectors
for Nuclear Research in Norway

UiO (IFE, INFN - Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare)

21 247

245883

Aquafeed Technology Centre

NOFIMA AS (UiB, Uni Research, Univ. of Nottingham)

30 000

245896

Virtual Arena

IRIS

40 000

245899

Norwegian Open Research Data Infrastructure

NSD (University of Michigan, UK DATA ARCHIVE)

26 000

245904

Norwegian Brain Initiative (NORBRAIN) Stage 2

NTNU (UiO)

65 000

245907

FARLAB (Facility for advanced isotopic research and monitoring of weather, climate, and biogeochemical cycling)

UiB

16 579

245922

NOR-OPENSCREEN - the Norwegian EU-OPENSCREEN node -revised application

UiO (UiB, SINTEF, UiT)

29 580

245927

Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS)-Norway and Ocean Thematic Centre (OTC)

Uni Research AS (CICERO, NILU, NIVA, NERSC, SKOG og LANDSKAP, IMR, BIOFORSK, UiB, NPI)

90 000

245928

Norwegian Advanced Light Microscopy Imaging Network (NALMIN)

UiO (OUS, UiT, UiB, NTNU)

49 488

245942

Norwegian Center for Neutron Research - NcNeutron

IFE (UiO, UiS, SINTEF)

29 800

245956

The Marine Technology Laboratories - Required Upgrading and Developments (Phase II)

MARINTEK (NTNU)

69 000

245963

Norwegian Micro- and Nanofabrication Facility II

NTNU (SINTEF IKT, HBV, UiO)

90 000

245967

Norwegian Scientific Data Network

Met.no (NPI, IMR, NILU, NERSC)

20 000

245979

National consortium for sequencing and personalized medicine

OUS (UiO, UiB, NTNU, Haukeland University Hospital)

60 000

SUM

 

 

1 293 000

 

Contract negotiations and reserve list

In the event that the contract negotiations for any of the projects above are unsuccessful, a project is to be concluded prematurely, or there is funding available after the contract negotiations are completed, the Research Council will invite new projects to enter into contract negotiations according to a ranked list of reserves. The relevant projects are listed in priority order below.

Project number

Ranking

Project title

Applicant consortium

245937

1

Norwegian Center for Plankton Technology

 SINTEF FH (NTNU)

245650

2

NATIONAL GEOTEST SITES

NGI (STATENS VEGVESEN, NGI, UNIS, NTNU)

245923

3

Arctic Ocean ecosystems - Applied technology, Biological interactions and Consequences …

 UiT (NERSC, UNIS, NTNU, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, HI)

245656

4

National laboratory for the utilisation of natural gas

 SINTEF (NTNU)

 

Three large-scale projects in the health sector

Infrastructure for health research will be strengthened with three major investments. The Research Council is investing NOK 65 million in Phase 2 of the NORBRAIN project, for upgrade and expansion of the laboratory facilities for the dynamic brain research groups of Oslo and Trondheim. The Council is also investing NOK 80 million in a national biobank, Biobank Norway, and NOK 50 million in the Norwegian Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (NorCRIN), a project aimed at bringing research results more quickly from laboratory to patients.

Four new infrastructure components for the energy sector

Also among the projects being invited to enter into contract negotiations are three new research facilities specifically targeting research on renewable energy. One of these, the Norwegian Zero Emission Building Laboratory, will be the first Norwegian building to function entirely as a laboratory for testing out materials, building technologies and advanced systems for efficient lighting, insulation and heat loss/recovery – all while serving as a fully functional office building. The Research Council is proposing to provide NOK 63 million in funding to the project.

The Research Council will also provide NOK 30 million in funding for new research infrastructure in the field of silicon solar cell technology, as well as NOK 26 million for significant upgrades to infrastructure for research on fuel cells at the Norwegian Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Centre. Also on the list is the European Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage Laboratory Infrastructure (ECCSEL), with an estimated allocation of NOK 150 million. Norway will be a host country for this pan-European infrastructure in which 15 countries are pooling their resources to upgrade existing laboratories and invest in new equipment for finding new and more cost-effective methods to capture and store CO2 from point sources such as coal-fired power plants and industry actors.

Four infrastructure components for biotechnology

Four research infrastructure components for the field of biotechnology have been selected for equipment funding. All four already have successful technology programmes established under the Research Council’s National Programme for Research in Functional Genomics in Norway (FUGE) during its programme period.

The Research Council is investing NOK 60 million in equipment for sequencing and personalised medicine, nearly NOK 30 million in chemical biology screening equipment (the NOR-OPENSCREEN project), roughly NOK 49.5 million in new extremely high-resolution microscopes that can be used in all life-science research fields (the NALMIN project), and roughly NOK 28 million in national equipment for studying cell structures, proteins, viruses, DNA and RNA (the Norwegian Macromolecular Crystallography Consortium).

Major boost for environmental and climate research

In the field of climate and environmental research, five projects will be invited to enter into contract negotiations, which will likely amount to an allocation of at least NOK 216 million. The Norwegian Scientific Data Network will coordinate access to existing databases and catalogues related to climate and environmental research in order to provide researchers with a better overview of and easier access to available data. The Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS)-Norway and ICOS Ocean Thematic Centre (OTC) are a Norwegian node of the ESFRI project ICOS, which provides carbon cycle data. The FARLAB project is an isotope lab at the University of Bergen for studying paleoclimates, meteorology and biogeochemical cycles. Climate-Ecological Observatory for Arctic Tundra (COAT) involves establishing research infrastructure for studies particularly focused on the impacts of climate change on vulnerable Arctic ecosystems in Varanger. Lofoten-Vesterålen cabled observatory (LoVe) is a project to establish a marine observatory consisting of a cable that runs from a land station, with nodes to collect information about physical conditions and biological responses for the entire marine ecosystem off Vesterålen and Lofoten, Norway.

Norwegian participation in four more projects on the ESFRI Roadmap

In all, the Research Council received 10 grant applications for participation in large-scale infrastructures on which European countries cooperate (ESFRI projects). The Research Council is proposing that Norway joins four new ESFRI projects: NOR-OPENSCREEN, which will become the Norwegian node of the EU-OPENSCREEN project; the Norwegian Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (NorCRIN), which will become a node of ECRIN; and NALMIN, which will become part of Euro-BioImaging and the European Plate Observing System (EPOS).

New research infrastructures for enhancing access to research data

The call for proposals specified that the Research Council was seeking to provide funding for research infrastructure projects that promote open access to publicly funded research data and safeguard important Norwegian data sets. Improved access to research data enhances the quality of research because the results can be more readily validated and replicated, and the data can be used in new ways and in new combinations. In six of the infrastructure projects approved for funding, archiving and open access to research data are main objectives. Ten of the projects have archiving and open access to research data as project components.

 

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