Four new Centres of Excellence

(12.11.2012) The Research Council of Norway has awarded NOK 2 billion over 10 years to 13 research groups to establish Norwegian Centres of Excellence starting in 2013. NTNU was awarded 4 of the new centres.

"This is a big day for NTNU. We are very happy and proud that all 4 of the NTNU applicants who were finalists were also selected in the end to be Centres of Excellence. This is an important recognition of the quality of the research that is conducted at NTNU," said Kari Melby, NTNU's Pro-Rector for Research. "We congratulate our researchers, with a special nod to the new centre leaders, who have succeeded in an extremely difficult competition, where the best competed against the best. They have made an enormous effort to get to where they are today."

The award means the four new centres will receive a total of NOK 620 million over 10 years.  All told, 139 different research groups applied to funding as a Centre of Excellence. The Research Council of Norway selected 29 finalists from this group, but just 13 of these were selected in the end after a detailed and demanding application process.

New centres
The four new NTNU centres are:
•    Centre for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems (AMOS)
•    Centre for Molecular Inflammation Research (CEMIR)
•    Centre for Neural Computation (CNC)
•    Centre for Dynamics of Biological Diversity

Centre for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems
The centre will strengthen Norway's already high standing in marine technology. Researchers will develop control engineering and marine technology for autonomous systems that can interpret data and take decisions without the need for human intervention. Annual award: NOK 17.5 million. Project leader: Professor Johan Asgeir Sørensen.

Centre of Molecular Inflammation Research
The centre will identify new diagnostic tools and therapeutic targets for inflammatory diseases. Research activities will lead to a greater understanding of how the body's inflammatory responses to disease are triggered and how the immune system is activated. Annual award: NOK 16.5 million. Project leader: Professor Terje Espevik.

Centre for Neural Computation
The objective of this SFF centre is to pioneer the extraction of computational algorithms from the mammalian cortex. Understanding the brain at the algorithmic level may have far-reaching implications, from the diagnosis and prevention of many neurological and psychiatric diseases to applications in the IT industry.  Annual award: NOK 17.5 million. Project leader: Professor May-Britt Moser.

Centre for Dynamics of Biological Diversity
The centre's researchers will study biosystems at the genetic, population and community levels. The objective is to identify general principles and patterns which can be used to predict changes in biological diversity, including the significance of human activities. Annual award: NOK 10.5 million. Project leader: Professor Bernt-Erik Sæther.

Read the Research Council of Norway's press release.

New research frontiers
The SFF scheme is one of the Research Council's primary instruments for promoting research of high scientific quality. A research group that is granted status as an SFF centre can look forward to ten years of stable funding.
Generous, long-term funding allows the SFF centres to establish an organization designed to carry out targeted research of top international calibre and develop new ways to collaborate and reach the international forefront of their respective fields. An important secondary objective is to enhance researcher recruitment.
The scheme was launched in 2003 with 13 SFF centres. In 2007 eight new SFF centres were established. The total annual budget for these 21 centres has been NOK 235 million.

The initial SFF centres are all drawing to a close at the end of 2012, while 13 new centres are being established. The total annual budget for the new centres is NOK 208 million.

"All our experience indicates that these 13 new centres will deliver research that makes a lasting impact for years to come," says Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council. "They are already well-entrenched research groups; this long-term funding gives them the chance to make their mark in the forefront of international research." The director general is looking forward to seeing what this next generation of Norwegian Centres of Excellence will achieve.

Visit NTNU's Flickr page to download photos related to the new centres.