General characteristics of the CoEs

The aim of the scheme is to “establish time-limited centres characterised by focused, long-term research efforts of a high international calibre, and where research training is an important aspect” (RCN, 2005). It is the prime national research policy instrument for:

  • • promoting high scientific quality in national research
  • • promoting cutting-edge basic research through long-term, generous funding
  • • strengthening the internationalisation of Norwegian research
  • • creating added value by establishing centres in host institutions
  • • building strong research groups
  • • promoting researcher recruitment.

The RCN has recently announced the third generation of these centres. During the scheme’s lifetime some changes and adjustments have been made. In the first call, one of the selection criteria was the social relevance of the research field. Fields differ considerably in how much relevance is an inherent part of their typical research or is readily identifiable. With the introduction of a new scheme for centres for research-based innovation in 2005, this criterion was removed from the CoE scheme as it was considered covered by the new scheme. In addition, the RCN encouraged host institutions to limit the number of applications. As such, the CoE scheme can be seen as an instrument for prioritising strong research environments in host institutions.

Illustrative case

The illustration of the CoE scheme in this chapter is based on the experience of the University of Oslo, which has hosted 12 CoEs (three from the first CoE call, five from the second, and four from the latest). The illustrative examples concern the university, one CoE at the university, and the host department and faculty of the CoE. The selected CoE, here called CoRG,2 employs 40 persons who represent 24 full-time equivalents (figures for 2012). The main purpose for establishing CoRG was to strengthen research capacities and enhance the research field. The centre performs basic research and its scientists teach at the bachelor’s and master’s levels to some extent. It is a temporary unit and is highly dependent upon funding from the CoE scheme.

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