Norway expands funding for 8 "excellence" labs

09 Jan 2007 | Network Updates

The Norwegian government expanded a programme to plow the country's oil income into research, naming eight additional research institutes as "Centres of Excellence" to receive special grants.

The programme, begun in 2003, has so far been spending NOK 155 million a year on 13 institutes judged world-class by the Norwegian Research Council. With the eight new nominees, the budget rises to NOK 235 million a year. The programme is funded from the investment income of a state oil fund - one of several uses to which Oslo has been applying its oil and gas profits over the past decade, in a national effort to plan for the day the oil runs out.

The nominations to the programme followed a national competition among 98 university departments and labs across the country. It also followed a special review of the programme that concluded that nine of the first 13 Centres of Excellence had successfully used the money to improve their research and gain more international recognition - though it also noted several organisational problems, in lab space and computer resources, among the fast-growing institutes.

The eight new labs are in earth sciences at the University of Bergen; in chemistry at the University of Tromso and in economics, philosophy/classics and biology at the University of Oslo. In addition, two labs at the Oslo Radiumhospitalet and the Simula Research Laboratory AS also won awards.

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