New director of the Department for Cooperation and Development Research
Bjørn Tore Kjellemo took up his post as the new Director of the Department for Cooperation and Development Research this week.
Mr Kjellemo is coming from a position as the Deputy Director General of the Section for Education, Skills and IPR under the Department of Research and Innovation at the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The section handles education-related issues of particular relevance for trade and industry, i.e. issues related to continuing and further education, knowledge-building in trade and industry and researcher recruitment. The section also has the responsibility for facilitating increased commercialisation of research results and for strengthening industrial development-related activities at the universities.
He worked at the Ministry of Education and Research for many years, holding the position of Deputy Director General under the Department of Higher Education, as well as serving as acting Assistant Director General of the Department of Policy Analysis, Lifelong Learning and International Affairs.
“What was your motivation for applying for this position at the Research Council?”
“I have worked some with international issues previously and quite a bit with research policy issues, and I think these are exciting areas. I also think the research topics addressed by this department are important and this was one of my main motivations,” says the new Department Director.
Mr Kjellemo admits that cooperation and development is a new field for him. “I was heavily involved in establishing and following up the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education (SIU) and was somewhat involved in the formalised research cooperation between Norway and South Africa as well as several other countries. But I have got a lot to learn here.”
Positive impression of Brussels
Mr Kjellemo served as a counsellor on educational matters at the Norwegian embassy in Brussels for two years (until summer 2008). He sums up his experience: “I had a positive impression of the EU and the European Commission. Once you get to know the people and the structure, the EU is rather transparent and the level of openness is often greater than what we are used to in the public administration in Norway.”
“The number of Member States has expanded, and we cannot expect the same amount of attention as we have been afforded in the past,” he continues. In his view, Norway is clearly noticed in Brussels. “We make ourselves heard in important areas for us. However, it is essential to be clear about what we want to achieve; otherwise it can be difficult to get attention. This is perhaps the greatest obstacle we face.”
Clearer demands for results
Mr Kjellemo believes it is a bit early to start listing the challenges relating to the research fields and funding instruments for which he is responsible. Nevertheless, he points to the ministries’ tendency towards micromanagement as representing one of the challenges.
“We have to expect that the ministries will make clearer demands for results when allocating funding for research. This is the new reality for the entire research system. However, we don’t know for sure that numerous guidelines and detailed management will actually lead to the best results. The goal of our department should be to establish broad-based programmes while at the same time striving to satisfy expectations,” he says.
He will start by immersing himself and getting to know his dynamic department and its exciting project portfolio.
Mr Kjellemo authored a book about the right to special needs education in primary school (Norwegian only), published in 1995, and co-authored an earlier book on the same topic. A look at his CV gives the impression that his background is in education, but the new Department Director actually holds a law degree from the University of Oslo, with a focus on administrative law. He only spent one year as a researcher before – as he puts it – he disappeared into the maw of the ministries.
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