In an international context the Nordic countries are nonetheless often too small to be noticed in the scientific field. In line with globalisation, we see that cross-border co-operation is becoming increasingly important. The Nordic countries have many similarities and it is therefore natural for them to look to each other to find common solutions.

"Nordic co-operation is not a goal in itself but a means to achieve the increasing internationalisation in research," says Chairman of the Board in NordForsk, Kari Kveseth.

By building on national initiative, in co-corporation with national players such as the research councils, we can use existing resources more effectively. Nordic scientists and universities working together create a critical mass and thus better conditions for high quality research. This, in its turn, will increase our impact and visibility.

Global opportunities

Today we are facing a number of challenges in the global arena. In this difficult situation, nevertheless, we also have a golden opportunity to turn around and focus on the possibilities opening before us.

The Nordic countries have long traditions for daring to focus on research even under difficult situations. This is now more important than ever before. In this way we can lay the foundation for further economic growth and competitiveness, both for the individual Nordic country and for the whole region.

Both free research run by scientists, and strategic research which is more direct, aim to solve social problems and are the fundamental to the further development of a knowledge society.

In today's situation the environment, energy and the climate stand out as clear focus areas which reappear in a large number of stimulus packages in the world in general and in the Nordic Region in particular. The USA's stimulus plan emphasises research in alternative forms of energy and a more environmentally-friendly development as the way to improved economic growth and employment.

Similarly the Norwegian package also has a strong focus on research and the environment. The Norwegian government intends, for example, to pump NOK 75 million into climate research particularly directed at offshore wind power, in addition to NOK 120 million for research into carbon capture and storage. The Swedish research proposition from 2008 in its turn will give a financial lift to research and innovation with SEK 5 billion in the period 2009-2012.

With this strong focus we, in the Nordic Region, have the opportunity to concentrate our efforts together.

In the autumn 2008 the Nordic countries joined forces on the largest Nordic research and innovation venture ever, the Nordic excellence in research initiative. This is a common Nordic platform focusing on climate, energy and the environment to meet the challenges of the future.

The objective is to develop research and innovation of high international quality in close co-operation with industry, to ensure that the results will be put into practice. In this way the Nordic Region aims to be at the forefront in climate work, aided by cross-border co-operation.

(Article from the next issue of Analys Norden - to be published on Tuesday 24 February).

For further information, please visit the NordForsk website or contact Anne Riiser or Lisa Ekli.