A small country with centralised research funding

In order to contextualise the CoE scheme, a brief overview of the Norwegian research system is necessary. There are four major types of public research organisations: universities, university hospitals, university colleges and research institutes. Generally speaking, there is a division of work between the universities and the research institutes. The latter are the primary providers of applied and contract research, and the former primarily conduct basic research. In terms of finance, Norwegian universities still enjoy considerable block funding compared to other European universities, which are often more dependent upon project-based grants.1 Moreover, Norway has only one research council, the Research Council of Norway (RCN), which administers all grant schemes, including the REIs. The centralisation of competitive funding schemes for research, combined with the division of tasks among the different kinds of research-performing organisations, means that CoEs can potentially have a substantial impact on the national research landscape.

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