Photo: Audun Iversen © Nofima

Project Year 2017

Setting new international goals

Nofima is aiming to expand its international collaboration. This will also benefit Norwegian trade and industry.

Most research problems are transnational in nature, and people in many countries can benefit from the research findings. Similarly, few issues are unique to an individual company.

“For example, when researching how to combat food fraud, it is pointless to only look at the situation in Norway. The problem often starts long before the food item reaches the Norwegian border. We need to collaborate across national borders to ensure overview and find solutions to the problems,” says scientist Petter Olsen.

The impact of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture is another example of an area where international collaboration and global perspectives are essential.

Want more EU-funded research

The EU has invested almost EUR 80 billion in its Horizon 2020 research programme, which runs from 2014 to 2020. So far, EUR 430 million has been awarded to Norwegian organisations, including Nofima.

But the Norwegian authorities want a larger piece of the pie, since Norway pays large sums of money to be allowed to apply for these research funds. Applying for research support from the EU is hard work, so the Norwegian government gives grants to Norwegian research institutes that want to apply for EU funding.

In line with the national strategy, Nofima’s goal is to increase revenues from EU projects from 5% to 10%. To this end, Nofima is focusing on building up areas and networks for researchers who want to work internationally.

Unparalleled success rate

“Good networking is crucial for success,” says Olsen, who plays a key role in Nofima’s EU focus.

“I am part of two international networks: one on fisheries and seafood and another on food fraud and traceability. In addition, I am part of a tight-knit group of scientists from five institutes who have worked together on many EU projects. We know each other well and discuss the various calls for applications,” he says.

Over the last seven years, the EU has granted nine out of ten applications he has been involved in. By comparison, the average success rate in Horizon 2020 is 12%.

Alongside his work on EU projects, Olsen is also Nofima’s internal EU coordinator. He keeps track of the many initiatives, applications and projects in which Nofima is involved. In 2017 some 100 scientists were involved in EU research in some way.

An important criterion for most of the EU projects that Nofima participates in is that the research must help resolve concrete problems facing society. This is a good match for Nofima.

“Nofima conducts applied research. This means that the knowledge we generate through our research must be useful for commercial players and the authorities in specific areas. We are used to seeing problems from the industry point of view, providing us with an advantage compared with some of our competitors,” says Olsen.

The industry must do more

The Norwegian private sector spends substantially less money on research than our neighbouring countries, but research activity has been stepped up in recent years. The authorities have indicated that the business community must do more to ensure that we reach the target of research and development expenditure of 3% of GDP.

“It is thus important that businesses and organisations get more involved in research, financially as well. Right now, companies have a golden opportunity with the EU,” says Olsen.

“In the coming years, the EU is going to allocate more money for innovation projects, where the research must result in concrete innovations for companies and society. The business community needs to strike while the iron is hot,” he adds.

Horizon 2020 projects in which Nofima is participating:

  • Edulia
  • SafeConsumE
  • AQUAEXCEL2020
  • ClimeFish
  • PrimeFish
  • EU-China-Safe
  • FarFish
  • AgriMax
  • MedAID
  • VIVALDI
  • AUTHENT-NET

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