Increased long-term funding
Author: Kjersti Strømme
Increased demand requires additional funding
Together with the collaboration agreement with the four BOTT universities (NTNU, UiB, UiO and UiT), which was signed in 2021, the contract provides greater predictability for the operation and further development of e-infrastructure services for which Sigma2 is responsible. This means good opportunities for more researchers to have access to national e-infrastructure and an even better range of services in computational science and data storage.
Nevertheless, there is a challenge associated with the large demand for computing and storage resources in the years ahead. Simultaneously, as the need to handle research data is increasing among researchers in Norway, the extent of research environments needing access to resources is also increasing. Additional financing will be required for investments.
The Research Council of Norway, together with the BOTT universities, have funded the national e-infrastructure from 2015 through a combination of basic funding and competitive funding. Since then, there has been a huge increase in demand from computational and data-oriented research environments. In addition, demand has increased from academic environments in other areas, such as the social sciences and humanities, which have traditionally not used e-infrastructure services to the same extent.
The basic funding is doubled
Throughout 2021, Sigma2 has worked closely with the BOTT universities and the Research Council to land a new funding model. The universities have agreed to double the basic funding from NOK 50 to 100 million a year and signed a new collaboration agreement in 2021. Now the Research Council has also signed and the basic funding is increased from 25 to 50 million a year. Sigma2 is nevertheless dependent on applying for competitive funds for investments from the Research Council's investment in Research Infrastructure to maintain capacity and ensure adequate service offerings.
- Predictability and continuity are important when we invest millions in new supercomputers and storage systems. The new agreement ensures that we can continue to deliver and further develop user-friendly and efficient services that are crucial for more and more research disciplines. This is good news for Research Norway, says Gunnar Bøe, Managing Director of Sigma2. - At the same time, the high demand for e-infrastructure services means that greater funding is still needed if Norway is to be competitive.
Should not be dependent on competitive funds
Earlier this year, the Research Council evaluated the INFRASTRUCTURE program "investment in research infrastructure". This is an initiative that helps to build up relevant and updated infrastructure for Norwegian research environments and businesses. In the evaluation report, Sigma2 is highlighted as a very important infrastructure, which should not be dependent on funding through competitive funds.
- To meet the challenges of the future, we must invest more in computer infrastructure. Through Sigma2, Norwegian researchers gain access to data infrastructure that is of great importance for the extent and quality of Norwegian research. Therefore, I am very happy that we, together with the universities in Bergen, Oslo, Tromsø and Trondheim, can now increase the fixed annual contribution to Sigma2, says CEO of the Research Council Mari Sundli Tveit.