New cooperation programme with China launched:
Focus on China
Norway and the Research Council are increasing their efforts to promote research collaboration with China. A separate cooperation programme, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has now been established.
The new research programme is aimed at establishing cooperation with Chinese governmental research-funding institutions, and will distribute some NOK 20 million per year up until 2017. The thematic scope of the research programme includes climate, climate technology, environmental issues and welfare.
Starting with climate change
The programme will be implemented in cooperation with the Research Council programmes Climate Change and Impacts in Norway (NORKLIMA), Research Programme on Welfare, Work and Migration (VAM), Power Generation with Carbon Capture and Storage (CLIMIT) and Norwegian Environmental Research Towards 2015 (MILJO2015).
The first six projects to receive funding deal with climate change and pollution on Chinese territory and in the Arctic. The China research programme has provided NOK 27 million to the projects while the NORKLIMA programme has allocated NOK 2 million. The contribution from the cooperation programme's Chinese partners brings the total investment in these first projects to around NOK 50 million.
Crème de la crème
"The considerable resources that Norway has invested has enabled us to mobilise leading Norwegian and Chinese research groups in the projects. In one project Norwegian researchers accompany their Chinese partners on a Chinese icebreaker in the Arctic. This illustrates an important benefit of international cooperation in research - it facilitates sharing of large-scale, costly infrastructure," explains programme coordinator Thomas Hansteen.
The Norwegian participants in the climate research projects are the universities of Oslo and Bergen, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB) and six leading research institutes, among them the Norwegian Polar Institute. The Chinese partners come from the elite within Chinese research: the highest ranking universities, a number of institutes and centres at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and key institutions in sectors such as meteorology and polar research.
The breadth and stature of the Norwegian and Chinese participants confirm the collaborative effort as a positive step; the joint projects were seen as having very high scientific quality in a recently conducted peer review process. Both Norwegian and Chinese climate research groups are attractive partners internationally, and the new projects clearly reflect the excellent relations between Norwegian and Chinese institutions that already existed prior to the start-up of this initiative.
New form of international cooperation
"This programme entails a new means of structuring international cooperation," states Hansteen. "The aim is to put in place broad-based bilateral initiatives with selected countries - in this case China - within a few defined thematic areas. We will achieve this by investing sufficiently in the initiatives to make Norway and the Norwegian research community interesting partners for leading research nations," says Hansteen. China is one of the world's leading research countries, and is one of Norway's prioritised partners for research cooperation.
Teaming up with a world leader
According to Director General of the Research Council Arvid Hallén, the importance of cooperation with China will increase over time. "We are extremely pleased that the launch of the new China programme has been so successful," he states enthusiastically.
Hansteen reports great interest in cooperation from Norwegian research groups. When the programme issued its first call for proposals in November 2008 the Research Council received grant applications totalling more than NOK 150 million.
"The Research Council seeks even closer integration between stakeholders in the Norwegian and Chinese research communities and will work towards joint calls for proposals with Chinese research funding bodies," Hansteen concludes.
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