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Promoting Research Excellence

New Approaches to Funding

image of Promoting Research Excellence

National research systems face an increasingly competitive environment for ideas, talent and funds, and governments have shifted funds from institutional core funding to project funding, often on a competitive basis, or reward success in raising third-party funds in performance-based funding schemes. It is in this context that “research excellence initiatives” (REIs) have emerged. This is an instrument designed to encourage outstanding research by providing large-scale, long-term funding to designated research units. They provide funds for research and research-related measures, such as the improvement or extension of physical infrastructure, the recruitment of outstanding researchers from abroad and researcher training.

This report presents new evidence on how governments steer and fund public research in higher education and public research institutions through REIs. The report can help inform discussions on future government policy directions by providing information on how REIs work and on the functioning and characteristics of institutions that host centres of excellence. The findings show some of the benefits to be gained through REIs and note some pitfalls to be avoided.

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Chapter 2. Research excellence initiatives and government ministries

This chapter presents the results of a survey to government agencies responsible for administering research excellence initiative (REI) funding for higher education and public research institutions. REIs provide funds for research and many research-related measures, such as the improvement or extension of physical infrastructure, the recruitment of outstanding researchers from abroad and the training of researchers. The survey results show that ministries and public funding bodies responsible for REIs judge them positively and report that they reach the objectives of the programmes. New lines of research have opened up, new patterns of interdisciplinary research have been established, human capital has been strengthened, and concentration processes have generally led to enhanced research capacities.

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