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Research Council gives urban research a boost

The growing urban population is leading to increasingly larger challenges in many areas of society. But with the right measures, these challenges can become opportunities. To this end, the Research Council of Norway is now boosting funding for urban research.

“Cities are the logical centre for the green transition that is now underway. That makes this the perfect time to increase our allocations to urban research,” explains Vidar Skagestad, Director of the Research Council’s Department for Land-based Bioresources and Environmental Research.

Smart, practical thinking is called for to accommodate more and more urban residents who need to share the same space and resources – while at the same time minimising their environmental footprint. Shown here is one of Oslo’s most recently developed areas. (Photo: Sverre Chr. Jarild)

Complex challenges
Smart, practical thinking is called for to accommodate more and more urban residents who need to share the same space and resources – while at the same time minimising their environmental footprint. Solutions for housing, transport and energy as well as other infrastructure must all function optimally with the lowest possible greenhouse gas emissions. Just as importantly, urban areas must be designed to provide residents with places to meet and a setting in which to thrive.

“The research will help to develop solutions that will make the cities of the future both sustainable and pleasant places to live,” says Mr Skagestad.

Cross-cutting cooperation
Many Research Council programmes incorporate elements of urban research, and this will continue. Urban challenges require cooperation that extends across funding instruments, disciplines and sectors.

“What we are doing now is drawing on the synergies across programmes and other funding instruments by requiring cooperation between them,” adds Mr Skagestad.

Cities are the logical centre for the green transition now underway, making this the perfect time to boost funding for urban research. (Photo: Sverre Chr. Jarild)

Idea Lab: Cities that work
In January 2016 the Research Council will conduct a second Idea Lab initiative (Idélab), this time with the theme of urban development. Starting with a vision of how Norwegian cities will look in the year 2040, 29 participants will work together during an intensive five-day workshop to propose radical new solutions that address existing and future societal challenges.

The Idea Lab workshop process will be run by professional facilitators. Mentors will both support and challenge the participants, ushering them towards project ideas. On the final day of the Idea Lab, the mentors select which project ideas will receive Research Council funding.

Read more on IDÉLAB’s webpage (in Norwegian).

European cooperation
The Research Council and the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation are participating in Urban Europe, a European Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) through which member countries can generate European solutions to common challenges by means of coordinated research.

“There are significant similarities between Norwegian priorities and those in other parts of Europe,” says Jonas Enge, Norway’s National Contact Person (NCP) for JPI Urban Europe. “Regardless of national point of departure, the aim is to develop sound, sustainable urban solutions for the future.”

Written by:
Mari Solerød/Else Lie. Translation: Darren McKellep/Victoria Coleman.
Published:
02.12.2015
Last updated:
02.12.2015