Upping Norwegian participation in EU health research

“Under FP7 Norwegian health researchers submitted only half as many applications as their Danish colleagues,” states Jesper W. Simonsen, Executive Director of the Division for Society and Health of the Research Council. Their success rate, however, was more or less on a par with the health researchers in our neighbouring countries.

Lack of interest?
“It seems that the problem doesn’t lie in the quality of the applications, but rather in a lack of interest and motivation in the Norwegian health research community,” Mr Simonsen explains.    

Norwegian researchers received 1.04 per cent of the FP7 funding awarded in the key thematic area of Health, while the Norwegian average in all other thematic areas was 1.8 per cent.

More international health research

Norwegian health research is only to a small degree funded from international sources. The Research Council believes this must be remedied, stating in its recommendation to the national budget that: “Ambitions relating to internationalisation and in particular for participation in EU health research activities must be greatly expanded in the institutions and in national initiatives.” 

There are signs of growing motivation to participate in international cooperation and European research collaboration,” states Gunnar Bovim. “The Norwegian health research community has a strong tradition of cooperation and there are signs of growing motivation to participate in international cooperation and European research collaboration,” says Gunnar Bovim, Rector at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and chair of the research board for the Division for Society and Health at the Research Council.

World-leading research groups
The Government’s target is to see 60 per cent higher Norwegian participation in Horizon 2020 relative to FP7.

“We need to showcase our world-class research groups in Horizon 2020,” says Bjørn Haugstad, State Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Research. He stresses that the Government’s research policy priorities are closely aligned with the initiatives under Horizon 2020. This applies to efforts to enhance quality in research as well as the focus on enabling technologies and the objective to increase the use of research to solve societal challenges.

“Next year’s budget includes a major investment in mobilisation measures to increase the number of researchers who apply for EU funding. The aim is to lower the threshold for individual researchers to become involved,” Mr Haugstad states.

Research Council to provide better support
“The Research Council must work together with the institutions to find the best qualified groups and individual researchers to apply for EU funding, whether this involves health research, the European Research Council or other health-related activities,” says Jesper Simonsen.

“We need to support Norwegian participation in international networks that can influence decisions, the text of funding announcements, etc. under Horizon 2020. Moreover, all of our input must clearly indicate the areas of health research in which we excel and that generate European added value, and that are of interest in a global perspective. We also have to do more to cultivate dynamic research environments. For instance, a lot of the social science research carried out in Norway could be better incorporated into health research,” Mr Simonsen explains.   

Looking for more incentives
In its input to the national budget for 2016, the Research Council recommends establishing a dedicated incentive programme for EU-funded research that provides support for project establishment, compensation schemes for use of researcher time, the establishment of high-level research groups, “national team models” and the participation of Norwegian researchers in strategic efforts connected to Horizon 2020 and various European Research Area activities.

The Research Council has already established several funding instruments to boost participation in EU programmes. Please see the following calls for proposals:

Project Establishment Support directed towards H2020 (PES2020).

In Norwegian: Additional NOK 2 million in funding available for the establishment of Norwegian EU networks (2015).

 

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