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Some good priorities, but lacking in vision

“We have great ambitions for Norway as a knowledge-based society, and we are sorry to see that this budget does not give us any reinforcement in this area," says Arvid Hallén. Photo: Jan Christian Sørlie “We have great ambitions for Norway as a knowledge-based society, and we are sorry to see that this budget does not give us any reinforcement in this area," says Arvid Hallén. (Photo: Jan Christian Sørlie) "Nevertheless, we are pleased that certain important priorities have been established, says  Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council.

Mr. Hallén points to allocations to research on climate, societal security, and nano- and biotechnology in the Government’s proposal to the research budget for 2013 as particularly constructive.

“I am very pleased that climate research is getting a significant and much-needed boost. The increase in allocations to the Research Council of NOK 42 million and the overall increase of NOK 47 million are in accordance with the Council’s main priorities, and are vital to society’s capacity to adapt to climate change. It is also positive to note that the first allocations for a new, ice-going research vessel are now in place,” says Mr Hallén.

“It is of critical importance that NOK 20 million will be allocated to a new research programme on societal security. The Research Council has lobbied hard for this, and preparations for the launch of the programme are already underway,” he says.

“We are also pleased that the national technology strategies are being followed up with an increase of NOK 30 million in allocations to nano- and biotechnology.”

The budget proposal also shores up funding to the research centre schemes. “These centres play an essential role in enhancing the quality of Norwegian research and cultivating dynamic research environments,” explains Mr Hallén. A total of NOK 47 million will be allocated to the Centres of Excellence scheme (SFF) and the Kavli centres.

Look more to the future

“The proposed research budget implies a certain degree of real growth, particularly for international research cooperation under the aegis of the EU. But unfortunately it lacks vision,” says Mr Hallén.

“We have great ambitions for Norway as a knowledge-based society, and we are sorry to see that this budget does not give us any reinforcement in this area. All signals indicate there will be a major need to restructure the Norwegian economy in a 20-25-year perspective, and the basis for this needs to be laid now. This will require a new set of measures. We see from this that we have to work even harder to generate enthusiasm for and understanding of research among politicians and the public at large if we are to succeed in this entirely essential project,” he explains.

International research funding

The Government has set aside NOK 318 million for an increase in contributions under the EU Framework Programme, as it is obligated to do.

“In the years ahead the Norwegian research community will have to obtain more of its funding abroad. To succeed, Norwegian research must be internationally oriented and competitive. This both poses new challenges, and opens up a wide range of opportunities,” the Director General concludes.
 

 

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