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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

On this page, you will find answers to the most commonly asked questions related to the centre area.

Different types of centres

What is the difference between the different forms of centres?

There are essentially two different types of centre at KTH:

  • Centres of excellence: Have funding from a research funding body (matched by the parties) based on an external call where KTH’s application has been granted.
  • Research centres: Unlike centres of excellence, have funding only from KTH and possibly external partners (i.e. not research funding bodies) to conduct research in a defined research area.

In addition, there are three other subtypes of centres at KTH:

  • Network centres: Receive only core funding for centre management and are used to gather researchers in a wider research domain and attract external parties to participate in specifically funded research projects, or to contribute to the development of larger initiatives. Does not have funding from research funding bodies.
  • Resource Centres: Operate major joint research infrastructures within the framework of their research projects, with users both inside and outside KTH. May have funding from research funding bodies, but more often has funding only from KTH and external parties.
  • Programme centres: Manage the assessment and selection of project proposals for recommendation to external funding bodies for decision. Have funding from research funding bodies.

What is an interim centre?

An interim centre is a centre that is run on a trial basis for a short test period (usually 18-24 months), to then be established pending evaluation and decision. The reason for setting up an interim centre may be to test a new area of research that lacks external funding and/or partners.

Starting a centre

How do I start a centre?

When setting up a new centre, three documents are needed:

  1. A concept description.
  2. A budget.
  3. Headmaster's request to establish a centre.

What is required for the establishment of a centre?

In order to start a centre, the researchers involved need to develop a concept description and budget in consultation with the head of school and KTH's management. Research officers at STRIV support the whole process and in turn present the compulsory documents at the President's decision meeting where the final decision on establishment is made.

What is required to obtain central co-funding for the centre?

A special President's decision is always required for central co-funding of the Centre, as it is a financial decision of long-term strategic importance for KTH.

Why is a specific template for concept description needed?

Concept descriptions always follow a specific template to facilitate understanding before the President’s decision and to withstand comparison.

What must a budget contain?

The budget must specify in-kind financing from researchers involved broken down by school, any additional co-funding from school(s), any central and/or external co-financing, and other parties' funding in cash and in kind.

The costs of the centre's planned activities shall be broken down into planned projects/activities.

What is needed for KTH to be a partner in a centre?

The request of the head of school to participate in the specified centre is needed, in which a number of items should be specified. See Guideline on the management of research centres (Riktlinje om hantering av centrum inom forskning). The decision to be a part of an external centre is made by the Vice President for Research. If central co-funding is to be included, a decision by the President is required.

Organisational residence

Can a centre be located outside a school?

No, centres established at KTH always have a host school. However, multiple schools may be involved in the centre and hosting may shift between them. KTH may also be a partner or node in a centre established at another university, but in that case the school where the KTH PI is employed is the host school for KTH's involvement in the centre.

Can a person be employed in a centre?

No, staff are always employed in the line organisation, i.e., at the hosting school.

Why is a request from a head of school needed before a centre can be started?

A centre requires resources in terms of managers, staff, administration, etc. The head of school request demonstrates that the research in the centre is strategic for the school, which is important as resources are tied up for the long term. At the same time, the school undertakes to provide the operational support required by the centre through a separate agreement.

What is the difference between head-of-school approval and head-of-school request?

They are essentially the same but the request shows a greater financial commitment by the school over a longer period, as the centre usually extends 5-10 years into the future.

Governance and management

What is the difference between a general assembly and a steering group?

The general assembly is the forum where all parties can represent their organisation and this format is suitable for centres with many parties.

The steering group is composed of five to seven nominated representatives (members) from the most influential parties and KTH's decision-makers must make a formal decision upon any changes.

Centres that do not have more parties than can be represented in the steering group do not need a general assembly, but if the centre is planning for more parties, the general assembly needs to be included in the agreement to be used in the future.

How often must the general assembly and/or steering group meet?

A general meeting is held when necessary and can be conducted digitally or physically. If not all parties are part of the steering group, a general assembly of the parties must be held at least at the time of the establishment and at the time of the decommissioning of the centre. Steering group meetings shall be held at least twice a year; many centres have four steering group meetings per year.

How is the steering group appointed?

By a decision of KTH's decision-makers, which also states the term of office of the steering group members. Adjunct or deputy members do not need a formal decision. Adjuncts are decided upon by the steering group and deputies are appointed by their own organisation. In some cases, the steering group then decides on deputy members.

When is the steering group quorate?

As long as they have a mandate through KTH's decision and as long as they follow the agreed forms in the consortium agreement regarding the minimum number of members to constitute a quorum.

What is the role of the director?

The director manages the day-to-day operational work of the centre and is appointed by a decision of the President (upon establishment) or the Vice-President for Research (upon any change or extension of the term of office). In addition, the position includes serving as the person reporting and preparing documentation for the steering group, handling reports and evaluations, being responsible for the centre's communication and being the contact person for the centre vis-a-vis KTH's management and support functions. This includes maintaining a dialogue on possible future centre evaluations by the research funding body and sending the centre's annual report to the head of school and the administrative officer at STRIV.

How are deputy directors and other management positions appointed in a centre?

By nomination of parties and by a steering group decision.

Can a director be employed outside KTH?

Yes, a director can have his/her main employment outside KTH but needs to be employed at KTH for the 20-30% that the director role normally requires. For centres established before the guidelines came into force where the director is not employed at KTH, exceptions may be granted by the Vice President for Research.

Can a director be part of the steering group?

No, a director is always the person reporting in the steering group.

Finances

How does financial management, reporting and monitoring work for a centre?

The steering group decides on the annual budget within the framework of the funds made available to the steering group by KTH and the respective parties. The centre must not have a planned negative result. The school economist manages the financial reporting and monitoring in cooperation with the director. The director has financial certification authority up to SEK one million, delegated by the head of school. Invoices are authorised by the school economist.

Who prepares the operational plan and budget?

The director prepares a draft operational plan and budget.

When should the financial planning and monitoring be done?

Financial planning is done in Quarter 3 and financial monitoring in Quarter 1 of each calendar year. The financial reporting shall be part of the annual reporting of the centre.

What happens if the centre does not spend its annual budget?

That depends on the conditions set out in the decision of the funding body. If there are no conditions, the unused funds will be transferred to the following year. A note should be made in the centre's annual report to the head of school and KTH management.

Is there a budget template for the centre?

There is no agreed budget template, but there are good examples of budget templates developed by other centres. For centres of excellence, a budget template is often provided by the research funding body. Contact STRIV at the Research Support Office and we will help you.

Decisions and minutes

Can steering group meetings be held digitally?

Yes. The same rules apply to digital as to physical steering group meetings.

Who writes the minutes?

At the beginning of the steering group meeting, it is decided who will chair the meeting (if the steering group chair is unable to attend), who will take the minutes and who will certify the minutes. The director may never be the chair as he/she is not a member of the steering group, but the chair is chosen from among the regular steering group members (unless the regular chair attends the meeting).

Who decides what in a centre?

The steering group decides on the operational and communication plan and budget for each operational year. The steering group also adopt the annual report and other documented monitoring. It decides, where appropriate, to set up a management team and to appoint a deputy director upon proposal from the director. Decisions on research projects to be funded by the centre within the framework of the centre agreement may be sub-delegated to the director.

What are the requirements for decisions of the steering group to be valid?

Normally, these rules are governed by the consortium agreement but otherwise the rule is that at least half must be present for decisions which normally take place at steering group meetings. In the event of a tie, the chair shall have a casting vote. A steering group decision can also be made by correspondence, i.e., without the steering group meeting physically or digitally, but in that case responses via e-mail or the relevant form of correspondence are collected in a special document that is saved by the director.

Can the steering group decide on everything?

No, in the case of a change of steering group member or director, the accession/exit of a new party or extension, the decision of the steering group is merely a recommendation, which is then passed on by the STRIV administrative officer to the Vice President for Research, who makes the formal decision. Upon the termination of a centre, the decision of the steering group is a recommendation, with the President making the formal decision. In all these decisions, the head of school should also be involved.

Where are different types of decisions filed?

Decisions concerning the centre are filed in the CASE system. Projects within the centre are given their own CASE number and are linked to the centre's case number.

Where should steering group minutes be stored?

All steering group minutes must be approved and filed at the school.

How to avoid conflicts of interest?

The easiest way to avoid conflicts of interest is to note the conflict of interest in the decision-making minutes and that the person did not participate in the decision. Read about conflicts of interest on KTH's intranet .

Extension/Termination

What is required for the extension of a centre's operational period?

The centre’s director shall prepare a self-evaluation report according to a template (provided by STRIV), which shall be adopted by the steering group and submitted to the Vice President for Research, the head of school and STRIV at the Research Support Office no later than three months before the end of the operational period. The head of school then requests an extension of the centre's operational period. The director prepares the documentation. The request is submitted to STRIV, which prepares a draft decision.

What is required for the decommissioning of a centre?

The centre’s director shall prepare a self-evaluation report according to a template which shall be adopted by the steering group and submitted to the Vice President for Research, the head of school and STRIV at the Research Support Office no later than three months before the end of the operational period. The centre must always be terminated at the request of the head of the school where the centre has its organisational headquarters. The request is submitted to STRIV, which prepares a draft decision.

Why is a specific template for the self-evaluation report needed?

The self-evaluation template makes it easy for the director and the centre's steering group to be sure that all the parameters requested by KTH's management for a decision on the centre's extension or decommissioning have been included. KTH as a public authority must be able to demonstrate that activities have been carried out according to the original project plan and budget to the funding bodies and in the event of an audit.

What happens when a centre is decommissioned?

Upon decommissioning, a reconciliation is made with the school economist regarding any unspent funds to identify whether any funds are committed for future costs and should therefore remain in the centre's account. Normally, unspent funds (if any) will be returned to the research funding body or to KTH and parties, the centre's account will be closed and the centre will be removed from KTH's list of centres on the web.

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Last changed: Oct 23, 2023