Programme for Regional R & D and Innovation (VRI)
VRI is the The Research Council of Norways main support mechanism for research and innovation in Norway's regions. The primary goal for VRI is to encourage innovation, knowledge development, and added value through regional cooperation and a strengthened research and development effort within and for the regions.
The VRI programme is a national programme with an initial time-frame of ten years (2007-2017). This work programme may be revised and developed throughout the programme period.
What is the VRI programme?
The VRI programme is a new Research Council of Norway initiative, targeted toward research and innovation at the regional level in Norway.
Professional and financial support
The VRI programme offers professional and financial support to long-term, research-based development processes in the regions.
The programme is designed to promote greater regional collaboration between trade and industry, R&D institutions and the government authorities, and to establish close ties to other national and international network and innovation measures such as the Arena programme, Norwegian Centres of Expertise (NCE) and the Regions of Knowledge initiative.
The Research Council will employ national, merit-based competition to ensure the quality of the activities and projects funded under the programme.
Fundamental components of the VRI programme include research activity, exchange of experience, learning, and cooperation across scientific, professional and administrative boundaries.
Major investment in Norwegian regional innovation
The Research Council of Norway's new funding initiative, the VRI programme, will strengthen innovative capacity and promote new forms of cooperation within the regions of Norway. A total of over NOK 280 million will be invested in regional innovation over the next three years. The first round of funding has now been distributed.
"The VRI programme (Funding Programme for Regional R&D and Innovation) is the main support mechanism underlying the Research Council's regional strategy. The programme was established to build links between nationally important R&D priorities with areas of regional focus", explains Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council. "It will generate regional mobilisation within priority areas such as the environment, tourism, the maritime sector, and the marine sector."
First round of funding distributed
The VRI initiative has mobilised a wide array of collaborative partners in Norway's 19 counties. Project funding has been sought by research institutions, companies, county administrations, and Norway's two principal employer's and employee's organisations - the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO). Over the next three years, the Research Council will allocate NOK 142 million for regional investment in innovation over the VRI programme . Trade and industry and the county administrations will provide a corresponding amount.
The following counties received funds in the first round of distribution: Finnmark, Rogaland, Aust-Agder, Vest-Agder, Møre og Romsdal, Vestfold, Hedmark/Oppland, Østfold, Hordaland and Sogn og Fjordane. The remaining counties will have an opportunity to join the programme later this year.
Research and industry - exchanging playing fields
One of the instruments being implemented to increase cooperation between industry and the R&D sector is the placement of researchers into companies for a given period of time to take part in product development activities. Similarly, company employees may be deployed to work on a research project at a university, college or research institute.
The county administration will be responsible for managing most of the VRI projects. The counties are interested especially in strengthening local industry in those areas in which they are already well positioned to achieve innovative success.
Bjørn Gunnar Tafjord
Project manager - Volda University College