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Nordic research cooperation

There is a longstanding tradition of research cooperation between the Nordic countries. The Nordic Council of Ministers has recently established two new funding bodies, the Nordic Research Board and the Nordic Innovation Centre, as a step towards developing the Nordic region into a leading region for research and innovation in areas in which collaboration can generate valuable synergy, expand the critical mass of research units and enhance international competitiveness.

The areas of priority have been chosen on the basis of established national strategies, and the regional initiative is clearly compatible with the EU's vision regarding the establishment of a European Research Area (ERA).

The organisation of Nordic collaboration in research and innovation rests on two main pillars, one for research, (the Nordic Research Board, NordForsk), and one for innovation (the Nordic Innovation Centre, NICe). This structure emerged in the wake of the findings of two reports from 2004: the White Paper on Nordic Research and Innovation, which proposes the establishment of NORIA (Nordic Research and Innovation Area), and the proposed Nordic innovation policy collaboration programme (2005-2010).

In addition, research collaboration in the areas of foodstuffs, agricultural, forestry and fisheries is organised in sector-specific activities. The Research Council further promotes research cooperation through the various Nordic joint committees.


NordForsk is an organisation under the Nordic Council of Ministers that provides funding for Nordic research cooperation as well as advice and input on Nordic research policy.

NordForsk works to enhance added value to existing research activities in the Nordic countries, and thereby strengthen the position and influence of Nordic research, both in Europe and globally. With the purpose to promote excellence in research, the organisation launches strategic initiatives which bring together national research groups in large-scale Nordic programmes based on common pot.

NordForsk conducts analyses and studies of Nordic research and research policy in its role as strategic research adviser. These analyses provide a sound basis for decision-making regarding joint Nordic initiatives. The publication series Policy Briefs is an important tool in this context.

NordForsk provides funding for cooperation within all fields of research. Normally projects involve cooperation between at least three Nordic countries or autonomous areas. Grants are awarded on the basis of open calls for proposals and peer review procedures.

NordForsk receives basic funding (NOK 117 million for 2011) as well as funding for specific assignments from the Nordic Council of Ministers. In addition, there is funding from research financing agencies in the Nordic countries and from other sources.

The Nordic Innovation Centre

The report on innovation policy cooperation focused on the need for stronger political cooperation to dismantle barriers to the development of a common innovation system in the Nordic region, as well as for spearheading specially targeted initiatives to promote networking and regional projects.

The Nordic Innovation Centre (NICe) is the Nordic Council of Ministers primary instrument for enhancing innovation and knowledge within the sphere of Nordic trade and industry. The Centres 2006 budget of NOK 82 million is invested in some 120 active Nordic projects and networks. The Centre has obtained results from several hundred other projects, and is involved in virtually all major areas of industrial development in the Nordic region.

Enhanced coordination

The Nordic Research Board and Nordic Innovation Centre are working together to strengthen the Nordic region in the sphere of research and innovation. Collaboration between the research and innovation pillars will be particularly relevant within the specially targeted initiatives. Both organisations are authorised to grant funding, and both serve in an advisory capacity to the Nordic Council of Ministers on research policy.

A Nordic forum for debate will be established in order to further develop this advisory function. The Nordic Research Board and NICe are located in the same office building at Stensberggata 25 in Oslo.

The Top-level Research Initiative (TRI) is the largest joint Nordic research and innovation initiative to date. The initiative aims to involve the very best agencies and institutions in the Nordic region, and promote research and innovation of the highest level, in order to make a Nordic contribution towards solving the global climate crisis.

Sector-based research

The Nordic Council of Ministers funds sector-based research in fisheries, agriculture and forestry, energy, as well as foodstuffs. Various bodies to promote research within these sectors have been established:

The Nordic Joint Committee for Agricultural Research (NKJ) works to promote and support agricultural research in the Nordic countries. The NKJ was established in 1965 as a forum for contact and cooperation between the national research councils of the five Nordic countries in the sphere of agriculture. Collaboration on research projects was introduced somewhat later. The NKJ serves the Nordic Council of Ministers in an advisory capacity.

The Nordic Working Group on Fishery Research (NAF) provides input to the Nordic Council of Ministers (Ministers of Fisheries) on matters relating to fisheries research. The Working Group also works to increase and enhance fisheries research cooperation between the Nordic countries.

Nordic Energy Research has worked with energy research in the Nordic region since 1985 through supporting various research programmes. In 1999, Nordic Energy Research was established as an independent institution designed to further support and develop the Nordic markets energy sector.

The Nordic Forest Research Cooperation Committee (SNS) is funded by the Nordic countries via the Nordic Council of Ministers. Its overall objective is to promote research on the various functions of the forests in sustainable forestry, as well as to serve in an advisory capacity to the Nordic Council of Ministers on maters relating to forests and forestry research. 

Joint Committees for Nordic Research

The national research councils of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway collaborate in joint committees for research in the fields of humanities and the social sciences (NOS-HS), natural science (NOS-N) and medicine (NOS-M). The joint committees have been charged with encouraging Nordic cooperation by enhancing coordination of activities among the Nordic research councils.

The committees provide a forum in which the research councils may exchange information on research policy, national funding strategies and priorities; may discuss relevant joint Nordic initiatives; and may follow up the international research debate and development of research disciplines. The joint committees also promote Nordic collaboration through the provision of funding for joint Nordic research projects.

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