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Investment in high quality research is essential for building a knowledge-based economy, driving innovation and boosting global competitiveness.

The Challenge

In Europe there is a difference in research and innovation performance across the EU Member States, which is particularly worrying given that investment in research and innovation is linked to economic growth and competitiveness. Several challenges need to be addressed, including:

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Underinvestment in research

Access to funding is crucial for high-quality research and development. The EU has a target of investing an average of 3% of GDP in research and innovation by 2020. Despite progress, this target has still not been met, with most of our beneficiary countries falling below the EU average of 2%.

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Uneven performance in EU framework programmes

The countries which joined the EU after 2004 have a lower success rate than the other EU members in research programmes such as Horizon 2020. This can lead to promising ideas not being explored and research talent going unnoticed.

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Supporting young researchers

Many young talents struggle to see a future in the field of research due to a lack of funding opportunities and limited support. Making sure PhD and masters students see a career in research as a good career option – for example through international experiences and participation in research networks – is vital for the sustainability of the sector.

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Innovation gap

The research and business communities need to work closely together if society is to fully benefit from the results of research.  Bringing new solutions and technology onto the market requires strategic and joint efforts.

Our Approach

Our goal

We aim to enhance research-based knowledge development.


Through the EEA and Norway Grants low-performing beneficiary countries get funding to produce excellent research with partners in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Partners get a chance to network and exchange valuable knowledge and ideas on an international stage, and share state of the art facilities and research infrastructure. In addition to the research results, the partners increase their ability to access EU funding. Supported initiatives include:

  • Collaborative projects in basic and applied research
  • Partnerships between academia and companies to ensure the application of research results
  • Capacity building in research, including support for women in research and young researchers
  • Research targeting societal challenges and social innovation
  • Support for the beneficiary countries’ participation in Horizon 2020 and ERA multilateral research cooperation

Download the overview of our support to Research to see the full list of suggested activities.

Creating partnerships

Partnerships are required in all projects funded through the research programmes. Partnership opportunities are open for both public entities such as research institutions, and private businesses. The Research Council of Norway and the Icelandic Centre for Research – Rannis work as Donor Programme Partners in the field of research and can assist organisations and businesses from Norway and Iceland that wish to participate in the programmes.