The Simula model
Simula is a research laboratory - not a university. Though we have some traits and goals in common, how we differ is important in how we work.
Our task, assigned and funded by the State, is to carry out research of a high international calibre, to educate students at MSc and PhD level in collaboration with Norwegian universities, and to set up business activities based on the work done at the lab. Simula has a number of subsidiaries that specialize in these tasks. Research activities fall within five subject areas: communication systems, scientific computing, software engineering, cyber security, and machine learning. These are also the subject areas in which we help to educate students.
Simula is registered under the Limited Company Act. The regulations and freedoms this entails are different than for a university - often clearer, more transparent, and easier to comprehend. Simula is managed like a commercial company in many ways, with one prominent exception: commercial companies are set up to produce revenues, whereas Simula is constructed to produce research results, educate researchers, and enable innovations.
A research lab is as good as the researchers employed there. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of recruitment. Efficiency is crucial; we need to move very quickly when a unique opportunity arises. We actively headhunt extremely promising candidates, and the best researchers are given funds to help build up their own activity. We aim to recruit a truly international lab, and whenever possible, we try to achieve gender balance.
More time for research.
Simula wants to revive the full-time researcher, allowing highly-skilled researchers to focus on the research-part of research. Although we cannot redesign the realities of research policy and the need for funding, we work constantly and deliberately to reduce the administrative burdens placed on researchers.
The research at Simula addresses fundamental problems. We determine a set of long-term goals and collectively work towards these in an organized manner. This deviates somewhat from the idea that excellent research is only possible when each researcher is completely free to follow his or her individual ideas. The freedom in day-to-day or week-to-week assignments is very great, but the long-term goals are decided in a comprehensive process, and everyone has to adapt to these goals.
We believe that focusing our efforts and resources increases the likelihood of important work. Given a substantial amount of money, the temptation is to fund a large number of worthy assignments. At Simula, we try very hard to concentrate our efforts on core issues and avoid the diffusion of resources.
Collaboration with industry.
We seek strong collaborations with the industry at large. Both long-term collaborations directed towards really challenging problems and short-term consulting are of interest but are handled by different subsidiaries. Our aim is to educate PhDs and post-doctoral candidates with a firm grasp of the problems of industrial interest in their field of research.
Generally speaking, at Simula, we address problems whose solutions would be applicable. We do not pursue strictly curiosity-driven projects but rather focus on research questions where the likelihood for important applications of a positive result is high.
Creating new businesses.
Real-life applications are the long-term goal for our research; Simula consistently aims at aiding researchers to enable the application of their research efforts.
We consistently try to reinforce a strong and characteristic research culture based on a few governing principles accepted by everyone, enabling us to reach ambitious targets, achieve excellent results, and enjoy a very good working atmosphere.
Read more about the Simula culture here.
1 - Simula is a group of 6 companies that are specialized in research, education, and innovation in ICT. These companies are: Simula Research Laboratory, Simula Metropolitan Center for Digital Engineering, Simula UiB, Simula School of Research and Innovation, Simula Innovation, and Simula Consulting. Simula Innovation invests in a dynamic portfolio of tech start-ups and regularly holds ownership in over 35 companies.
2 - In OECD terms, our research can be classified either as oriented basic research, which is defined to be research carried out with the expectation that it will produce a broad base of knowledge likely to form the background to the solution of recognized or expected current or future problems or possibilities or as applied research, which is defined to be an original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge directed primarily towards a specific practical aim or objective (see http://stats.oecd.org/glossary)