Research proposals for the Nordic Centre of Excellence Pilot Programme to be started in 2002


The Joint Committee of the Nordic Natural Science Research Councils (NOS-N) and the Nordic Council of Ministers of Education and Research (MR-U) decided in 2001 to launch a Nordic Centre of Excellence (NCoE) Pilot Programme to increase the scientific quality and visibility of Nordic research. The Programme will run during 2002-2007 and the annual funding will be at least DKK 10 million (approximately EUR 1.35 million). The secretariat functions of the Pilot Programme are provided by the Academy of Finland.


The research area of the Nordic Centre of Excellence Pilot Programme is basic natural science in the field of global change in the context of ecosystem processes within climate change, atmospheric processes and oceanographic processes. All research teams or units from universities and research institutes in these fields can apply to the NCoE programme. NCoEs should be based on existing research teams in the Nordic countries.


The NCoE is

          a compact and well-managed network of existing research teams, from at least three Nordic countries, forming a virtual centre, or

          a research unit of excellent scientific quality, providing facilities and infrastructure also to researchers from other Nordic countries.


Nordic support can be allocated to time-limited extraordinary professorships for professors coming from other countries, full fellowships for visiting professors, post docs and PhD students from other countries visiting the NCoE, extra management, operational and co-ordination costs. If a NCoE uses its Nordic funding to recruit PhD students, post docs and senior researchers from Nordic or other countries, it should organise open calls for applications. Basic funding must come from national sources. The NCoE programme support does not replace but supplements national funding.


The aim of the NCoE Programme is

          to increase visibility and attractiveness of Nordic research in the European and global context

          to ensure efficient and flexible use of Nordic resources, especially the use of expensive infrastructure

          to support creative and efficient research and training environments

          to create critical Nordic mass

          to increase the mobility of younger researchers in particular

          to generate co-operation between disciplines

          to create appropriate division of work and specialisation between the Nordic countries

          to integrate the Nordic CoEs into the national research systems.


The Nordic Centres of Excellence will be selected for a five-year period based on open competition. The proposals will be evaluated based on the scientific quality and the innovativeness of the planned research, scientific merits and output of the leader and the senior researchers, research environment, researcher training as well as the management and operation of the NCoEs. An international expert panel will carry out the scientific evaluation of the applications. The panel will make site visits to the maximum of ten of the best candidates. On the basis of the international evaluation, the Steering Committee composed of one representative from each of the Nordic countries will select the NCoEs. Funding of the selected 3-4 NCoEs will start in December 2002 at the earliest.


After the Expert Panel has selected the 8-10 top NCoE candidates, to which they will make site visits, these candidates will be invited to apply to NorFA for specific financial support for researcher training as a part of the NCoE Pilot Programme. This does not affect the candidates possibilities to apply for other NorFA resources.


The programme memorandum, call for applications, instructions for applicants (Part I), application forms (Part II) and signature form (Part III) are available on the Academy of Finland web pages at > Centres of Excellence > Nordic Centre of Excellence Programme 2002-2007. This material is also available in the Registrar´s Office of the Academy of Finland (Tel: +358-(0)9-7748 8377, email: [email protected]).


The applications written in English shall be filed with the Academy of Finland Registrar’s office in 20 copies (original and 19 sets of copies) by 2 May 2002, at 4.15 pm. The address is Registrar´s Office, Academy of Finland, Vilhonvuorenkatu 6, P.O.Box 99, FIN-00501 Helsinki, FINLAND.


The applicants are also asked to send the title and the abstract of their research plans by email ([email protected]) at their earliest convenience, but not later than April 15, 2002.


For more information, please contact:


          Scientific Secretary Janica Ylikarjula, Academy of Finland, Tel: +358-(0)9-7748 8297, email: [email protected]

          Secretary General Ritva Dammert, Academy of Finland, Tel: +358-(0)9-7748 8237, email: [email protected]


Danske kontaktpersoner:

Lektor Morten Pejrup, tlf. 3532 2505, e-mail [email protected]

Fuldmægtig Susanne Egelund, tlf. 3544 6254, e-mail [email protected]


Appendix: Criteria for evaluation and selection of Nordic Centres of Excellence


The most important criteria are the excellent (in international context) scientific quality of the research plan and the international status of the senior researchers of the NCoE candidate in its own field of research and the potential to further develop scientific excellence in the Nordic arena.


The proposals are evaluated based on:


Innovativeness of the planned research

          scientific added value and innovativeness, possibilities for major scientific break-throughs

          Nordic added value



Scientific merits and output of the leader and the senior researchers

          quality and quantity of scientific output

          international status and scientific leadership of researchers in their own field of research


Research environment

          critical mass appropriate to the field in question

          co-operation between the researchers in the proposed NCoE in the Nordic countries

          premises, instrumentation, special equipment and other infrastructure

          activity, nature and volume of international co-operation

          mobility of researchers

          number and quality of foreign researchers working in the NCoE candidate


Researcher training

          demonstrated skills in researcher training

          adequate ratio of students and supervisors

          practical and adequate arrangements for researcher training


Management and operation of NCoEs

          demonstrated skills in management

          cohesion between the research groups belonging to the NCoE candidate

          a plan on how the synergistic benefits and the Nordic added value can be achieved