Opportunities for research cooperation
Opportunities for cooperation between research institutions in Norway and six Central European countries were recently presented at a Norway Grants seminar in Oslo. Research cooperation should spur contribute to innovation and economic growth.
"The investment is important in terms of bringing countries in Europe closer together", says Mr Jesper Simonsen, Director of Division in the Norwegian Research Council. He opened a recent meeting about the funding for research cooperation between Norwegian and Central European countries that is available through the Grants.
Approximately €100 million is set aside for research cooperation between Norway and Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic and Hungary. In Romania, also research entities from Iceland and Liechtenstein may participate under EEA Grants funding. The projects will be carried out until 2016.
EU’s new Framework Programme", says Mr Simonsen.
Reducing social and economic disparities
State Secretary Mr Kyrre Lekve in the Norwegian Ministry of Education emphasises that research cooperation can promote social and economic cohesion in Europe.
"We reach closer cooperation with the new member states in the European Economic Area, and increased research cooperation may contribute to getting the European economy back on its feet", Lekve says.
Procedures made easier
Mr Lekve stressed that the positive experiences from the Polish-Norwegian research fund is one of the reasons that Norway now aims to strengthen research cooperation with Poland. The successful cooperation has also caused an expansion, and bilateral research cooperation will take place with a total of six countries in the European Economic Area.
The previous agreement resulted in a lot of good research cooperation, but many consider the bureaucratic procedures related to reporting, cost documentation and currency considerations to be too cumbersome.
Ms Astrid Huitfeldt, political advisor in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ensures that the procedures have been simplified.
"The procedures are now in line with what the research communities are used to in EU projects. The cooperation in research is an important contribution to strengthening Norway’s bilateral cooperation with the countries in question", Ms Huitfeldt says.
Contact between research communities
Researchers in Norwegian institutions cooperate with colleagues in the Grants’ partner countries to design an application for funding. The leader of the project is associated with an institution in the partner country, and will send the application to the national programme operator.
"The six countries in question will arrange activities in order to establish contact with Norwegian research environments", says Ms Alexandra Haugstad, coordinator for the EEA and Norway Grants in the Norwegian Research Council.
All the projects in Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary include at least one Norwegian cooperation partner. In Romania, at least one research institution from Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway participates in each project.
The Norwegian Research Council is partner in the six research programmes and will advise the partner institutions that administrate the programmes in each country. It will also assist Norwegian researchers wishing to participate.