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New way to finance national eInfrastructure

Norway is about to introduce a new model for investment in and operation of national high-performance computing and storage solutions for research data.

The model will be applied starting in January 2015. A newly established company will administer the joint funding initiative between the Research Council of Norway and the national universities.

The Research Council will increase its annual allocation for eInfrastructure from the current NOK 17 million to NOK 29 million per year for the first two years and thereafter to NOK 25 million per year for the next eight years. The universities will contribute by covering costs equivalent to NOK 50 million each year. In addition, users will help by paying for the services they use.

“Establishing a sound organisation and financing model for national eInfrastructure is extremely important. The Research Council is therefore ready to contribute more long-term funding as well as extra funding in the start-up phase to cover any additional expenses,” says Anders Hanneborg, Executive Director of the Division for Science at the Research Council.

Boost for many key research fields

Without high-performance computers, high-volume data storage space and the resources to operate these, modern research activities will grind to a halt. In particular, researchers in climate modelling, the life sciences, materials technology, physics, chemistry, the geosciences and language technology have a wide-ranging need for reliable computing power and data storage.

The Research Council of Norway

The new company will have a national responsibility for electronic research infrastructure, including a broader strategic responsibility and stronger operative control in addition to activities based on more long-term funding than previously. The company will be a subsidiary of UNINETT, a limited company owned by the Ministry of Education and Research, whose aim is to create world-leading ICT infrastructure and services to bolster research and higher education in Norway.

The infrastructure is to be used in research activities funded by government allocations and commissioned research. Universities and university colleges, independent research institutes, regional health authorities and other organisations that conduct this type of research will all have access to the services.

Gradual introduction of user financing

A model for user financing of eInfrastructure services will be introduced gradually, so that the users themselves will also help to cover operating expenses. The guidelines for user financing will be drawn up in the course of 2014.

“It is an important principle that research projects using the services supplied by the new company help to finance them based on usage. These costs are covered by the Research Council and the EU as part of project funding and must always be specified for each project,” says Mr Hanneborg.

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