Portfolio analysis for Global development and international relations

Statistics of relevant projects in the portfolio

The figures for national research efforts hold considerable uncertainty because it requires manual effort to estimate different baseline figures, especially in relation to national effort within the portfolio's area. Tables and figures are attached in appendix 1.

National R&D-investment

Overall, close to 77 billion kroner was spent on R&D in Norway in 2019. In the last ten years, R&D activity in the business sector and the university and college sector has increased the most. The activity in the institute sector and the regional health administrations has been stable. In 2019, public sources funded R&D activity for almost 36 billion kroner, corresponding to 47 per cent of total R&D in Norway. The business community is the second largest source of funding and contributes 31 billion kroner, of which most (27 billion) goes to R&D in its own sector (enterprises with at least 10 employees). International funding schemes, like the EU framework programmes, are also important sources of funding for Norwegian R&D and contribute more than 6 billion kroner. Other national sources contribute with a total of 3.6 billion kroner[1].

An exact knowledge base on the entire national research effort on the portfolio's theme is not available. However, by combining information from the budget propositions from[2], in addition to other relevant documents, one does get an idea of total available national allocations to foreign, security, development and global health research.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the primary contributor of R&D-funds to this portfolio. The Ministry allocated 1,654 billion kroner to R&D in 2020, of which 275 million kroner was funnelled through the Research Council. The funds encompass both Official Development Aid (ODA) (226 million kroner) and regular funding (49 million kroner). In addition, the Ministry funds research through a wide range of national, international, and multinational organisations, both directly from the Ministry and via the foreign service stations.

The corresponding figure for the Ministry of Defence is 1,3 billion kroner. Most of this research is carried out within the defence sector's own research institutes. Only 1,5 million kroner was funnelled through the Research Council. In addition, the Ministry of Education and Research allocated 63,4 million kroner to basic funding for the research institutes on foreign and development issues. The Ministry of Justice and Public Security invested 140 million kroner on R&D in 2020, of which 58,5 million kroner was allocated to research within the portfolio's thematic priorities. The Ministry of Health and Care Services funded research in the order of 5,172 billion kroner in 2020 of which 253 million kroner was funnelled through the Research Council, for the most part allocated to national health research programmes. It is difficult to assess Norway's contribution to global health research, as this area is not monitored specifically. However, although earlier analysis shows that allocations to global health research are a minor part of the total funding spent on health R&D, the ongoing Covid- 19 pandemics has increased spending in this area, especially through CEPI.

The Research Council's R&D-investment

The Research Council's total portfolio in Global development and international relations amounts to 388 million kroner in 2020. The RCN-funded part of the portfolio consists of 327 projects[3] in 2020, 150 projects are from the targeted programmes and 174 from other efforts, such as open arena and centres of excellence. The Portfolio Board for Global development and International relations financed research for 181 million kroner in 2020. The equivalent funding decisions from other portfolio boards to research projects contributing to this portfolio, amounted to 174 million kroner.

There was a significant increase in the portfolio in 2020 due to use of advanced funds allocated to calls. The reason for this is two-fold: The transfer of funds between fiscal years has increased over time, so increased spending through calls were deemed as an appropriate measure to reduce transfers; also, the Covid-19 pandemics has increased public R&D-investments due to a significantly weaker market for R&D-spending (i.e., private sector purchase of R&D from research institutes has decreased). One potential risk of increasing the allocation for research for a limited period is that the increase in capacity likely will not be sustained by available funds in future calls. However, the increase in capacity may, in some areas, have a positive impact on the quality of the research through an increase in the competition of funds. The wider impacts on the research community from this temporary increase of R&D funding should be monitored closely in future portfolio analyses.

Targeted programmes are in their entirety dedicated to thematic priorities within the Portfolio plan for Global Development and International Relations. For this portfolio the targeted programmes are International relations, foreign and security policy and Norwegian interests (UTENRIKS), Norway – Global Partner (NORGLOBAL2), Global Health Research (GLOBVAC), VISJON2030, The Norwegian Programme for Research Cooperation with India (INDNOR), Programme for Research Cooperation with China (CHINOR) and South-Africa - Norway joint research programme on ocean research including blue economy, climate change, the environment and sustainable energy (SANOCEAN). Most of the funds to these programmes originates from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ ODA-budget and encompass research on global development topics – hence education, job-creation, taxation and illicit capital flow, humanitarian aid, global health, the environment, climate change and renewable energy. The UTENRIKS programme has funding from both regular funds and ODA-funds. The regular funds are allocated to research on foreign and security policy and international relations, whereas the ODA-funds are allocated to research on Asia, and consequently the research must have development perspectives. The NORGLOBAL2 programme is funded mainly by the ODA-funds and receives a minor amount earmarked migration from Ministry of Justice and Public Security. The GLOBVAC programme have both ODA-funds and funds from the Ministry of Health. The bilateral programmes INDNOR, CHINOR and SANOCEAN, all funded by ODA-funds, underpin research cooperation between Norwegian researchers and researchers from India, China, and South-Africa respectively. The projects in the bilateral programmes are furthermore co-funded by the countries in question. However, the amounts of these contributions are not reflected in the RCN statistics as these include the Norwegian contributions only.

International cooperation

With its international thematic orientation, most projects within the portfolio have a formalised cooperation with researchers and/or research institutions in other countries. Based on St.mld 17 (2017-2018) Partner countries in the Norwegian development politics, the NORGLOBAL2 programme encourages that the funded research focuses on one of the 16 priority countries for Norwegian development aid. Three funding schemes, INDNOR, CHINOR and SANOCEAN, are bilateral cooperation mechanisms requiring research cooperation with respectively India, China, and South- Africa.

In total the portfolio's projects have formalised cooperation with 62 different countries. The most important partner countries for the projects in the portfolio are The United Kingdom (25 projects), USA (21 projects), South Africa (17 projects), Uganda (15 projects), Tanzania and Ethiopia (both 13 projects each), Kenya (10 projects), India and Ghana (both 8 projects each), Denmark, Russia, and Germany (all 7 projects each), Bangladesh (6 projects) and China, The Netherlands, Nepal, and Sweden (all 5 projects each). Of the countries listed above, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Ghana, Bangladesh, China, and Nepal, are ODA-eligible partner countries.

The European framework programmes are important arenas for R&D cooperation with countries of high relevance for this portfolio. Within the Europe 2020 framework programme Norway has entered into cooperation with a total of 131 countries. Although most are with European countries, Norwegian researchers have 136 joint contracts with research institutions from prioritized countries of the Norwegian Government's Panorama Strategy, Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South-Africa. There are a further 57 joint contracts with research institutions in partner countries of the Government's development strategy, Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Tanzania, Uganda, Afghanistan, Mali, and Palestine.

Project types, R&D sector, and regional distribution

The dominant project type, researcher projects, accounted for 213 projects, which aims at promoting renewal and development in research. Collaborative and knowledge-building projects, which require project partnership from non-academic institutions, accounted for 30 projects. Coordination and support activities accounted for 36 projects. The portfolio also includes three Centres of Excellence. Further, the portfolio includes several other, minor projects.

The Universities and University Colleges are, by a modest margin, the dominant R&D sector within the portfolio, having the lead in 160 projects. The Research institutes follows closely behind with 149 projects. Regional health administrations have 6 projects, whilst business have the lead in only 4.

The research institutions with the most projects from the portfolio are in Oslo, followed, although somewhat behind, by Bergen, Viken county, Trondheim, and Troms and Finnmark county. There are also a few projects in Kristiansand S., Stavanger, Bodø, Møre and Romsdal county, and Innlandet county.


The range of disciplines within the portfolio is broad, however, the portfolio is heavily dominated by the social sciences, with strong contributions from NORGLOBAL2, UTENRIKS and Open arena for social sciences, which account for 187 projects. Medicine and health, mainly from GLOBVAC and BEDREHELSE, accounts for 53 projects; Science and mathematics, mainly from SANOCEAN and a range of non-targeted funding schemes, 33 projects; Technology, primarily from non-targeted schemes, 28 projects; Humanities, primarily from UTENRIKS and Open arena for the humanities, 14 projects; and Agriculture and fisheries, from HAVBRUK, SANOCEAN and BIONÆR, 8 projects.

Thematic areas

The thematic priorities, as set out in the portfolio plan for this portfolio, are

  • World Order and the International System
  • System of government, democracy, and human rights
  • Foreign and Security Policy
  • Peace and Conflict
  • Poverty reduction
  • Humanitarian Efforts
  • Global health
  • Climate, environment, and renewable energy

The projects within the portfolio are not equally distributed across the thematic priorities, and projects funded by targeted funding mechanisms have a profile that differs from those from nontargeted, EU and other funding mechanisms:

Other funding mechanisms are Joint Programme Initiatives and Regional Research Funds.

As the thematic scope of the portfolio is broad, this portfolio is thus relevant for other portfolios. The portfolio's largest contributions in 2020 are to the portfolios for: Social sciences (229 projects), Life science (116 projects), Health (83 projects), Enabling technologies (76 projects), Industry and services (69 projects), Democracy, administration and renewal (65 projects), Climate and polar research (48 projects), Land-based food, the environment and bioresources (45 projects), Humanities (35 projects), Energy, transport and low emission (33 projects) and Oceans (28 projects). There are also minor contributions to other portfolios.

EU funded projects

Within the portfolio 61 projects are funded from the EU framework programme Horizon 2020 at the total amount of 156 million kroner in 2020. The EU-funded projects are mainly funded from the framework programme pillar Societal Challenges, but also includes projects funded from the sections Excellent Science and Industrial Leadership; within the thematic areas of Society, Food, Health, European Research Council - ERC, Marie Sklodowska Curie Action - MSCA and Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies - LEIT. There are further a few projects in the areas Environment, Energy, Advanced Materials, ICT and Security. Research institutes account for 27 EU-projects, universities for 24 projects and business for 6 projects. 48 projects are Research and Innovation Action followed by 6 Coordination and Support Action, 4 Starting grants and 3 Innovation action.


Since 2014 The European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP2) has funded 293 clinical studies on new or improved medical interventions against poverty-related infectious diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa. Norwegian institutions are involved in 5 of these. The partnership invested 911 million kroner in calls for proposals in 2020. The in-kind contributions from Norway to EDCTP2 amounted to 117 million kroner in 2020. This includes Norwegian support to CEPI, TDR and UNITAID, plus 5 projects supported with a total of 16,2 million kroner from the Research Councils global health funding scheme.

[1] Science & Technology Indicators for Norway 2019, NIFU (Norwegian only): Indikatorrapporten (forskningsradet.no)

[2] The Ministries' R&D-funding is presented in NIFU R&D-statistics (Norwegian only): FoU-statistikkbanken - NIFU (foustatistikkbanken.no)

[3] In addition, 14 projects are on basic funding for research institutes.