EEA and Norway grants:
Research cooperation for European progress
A European Economic Area (EEA) scheme funds research cooperation with the aim of strengthening bilateral relations in Europe and promoting economic growth.
The EEA and Norway Grants scheme has set aside roughly EUR 100 million for research cooperation between Norway and the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Romania. Projects may be carried out through the end of 2016.
“The EEA and Norway Grants scheme is vital for building closer ties between Norway and selected countries in Europe,” says Jesper Simonsen, Executive Director of the Division for Society and Health at the Research Council of Norway. “EEA-funded research cooperation may also pave the way for joint activities in other areas, for instance under the EU Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development.”
Reducing social and economic disparities
Recently, at a large information meeting about the EEA and Norway Grants, State Secretary Kyrre Lekve from the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research emphasised that research cooperation can promote social and economic equality in Europe.
“Norway will gain from closer cooperation with the new EEA member states. At the same time, expanded research cooperation may help Europe in its struggle to regain its economic footing,” said Mr Lekve.
Funding under the EEA and Norway Grants scheme is also designed to enhance research capacity and utilisation of research results in the beneficiary countries through collaboration with Norwegian institutions.
Successful Polish-Norwegian research fund
Mr Lekve stated that the positive experience already gleaned from the Polish-Norwegian research fund is a key reason why Norway is now seeking to both strengthen that cooperation and extend activities to a total of five other EEA member states.
Funding for research cooperation will cover a range of disciplines and subject areas, including the social sciences, the humanities, the environment, health, climate and renewable energy. Each beneficiary country has its own priority areas.
Extensive Norwegian participation
Every project funded under the EEA and Norway Grants scheme in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia and Poland must include at least one Norwegian partner. In Romania, at least one research institution from any one of the donor states (Iceland, Lichtenstein or Norway) must participate in each project.
Researchers at Norwegian institutions will collaborate with their counterparts in the beneficiary country on preparing the grant applications, which are submitted to the respective beneficiary country’s national programme operator of the EEA and Norway Grants. Each project is to be headed by an individual affiliated with an institution in the beneficiary country.
Norwegian researchers and research administrators demonstrated keen interest at the information meeting held on 24 April, where representatives from the six beneficiary countries responded to questions about research cooperation posed by some 100 participants representing universities, university colleges and independent research institutes in Norway.
The Research Council, as the Norwegian partner in research cooperation with all six countries, will assist Norwegian researchers seeking to participate. It will also advise partner institutions that administer the programmes in each country.
Pillar of a larger initiative to promote cooperation
Research cooperation is a cornerstone of the EEA and Norway Grants scheme, under which Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein provide funding to 15 EU member states to help to reduce social and economic disparities, among other aims.
In total, the EEA and Norway Grants comprise roughly NOK 14 billion for the period 2009-2014. Norway’s share is 97 per cent, while Iceland and Liechtenstein contribute the remainder.
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