International research cooperation takes place through organised research programmes and networks, as well as informal contact between researchers. Cooperation at an individual level has tended to be with partners in the USA. The Nordic countries have also been a natural cooperation arena, particularly in industry-related research. Over the past 20-30 years, however, Norway has joined a number of international cooperation projects based in Europe. Bilateral research cooperation at institutional level has been strengthened. Cooperation agreements have been entered into with the USA, South Africa and Japan, among others, while agreements with India, China and France are being developed.
Today, most of Norway’s international research cooperation is carried out within the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. Norway has participated in projects under the EU Framework Programme since 1987, and as a full member since 1994. This is the most extensive international research programme in which Norway participates. Norway’s contribution accounts for approximately three-quarters of its total financial commitments to programmes under the EEA agreement. There is broad political support for further developing and strengthening Norway’s participation. So far, Norwegian research efforts have mainly been in the areas of energy and the environment, transport, public health and medicine, and marine research.
Key international programmes in which Norway participates:
EU Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development
EUREKA: a pan-European network for market-oriented, industrial R&D
COST: European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research
ESA: the European Space Agency
CERN: the European Organisation for Nuclear Research
ESRF: the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
EMBL: the European Molecular Biology Laboratory
EISCAT: the European Incoherent Scatter Radar Facility
IARC: the International Agency for Research on Cancer (WHO)
The High North
Norway can offer research facilities that are attractive to researchers from abroad, for example at its advanced environmental and marine biology research institutions. Polar research is another area in which Norway has both strong traditions and natural advantages.
The Svalbard archipelago, which is part of Norway, is one of the most easily accessible High-Arctic areas in the world. Svalbard is attractive for research in a number of fields. Studies carried out in the Arctic may help answer questions relating to climate change and the mechanisms of the greenhouse effect. Approximately 95 per cent of all atmospheric measurements taken on Svalbard are unaffected by local pollution. Svalbard features some of the richest plant and animal life in the entire High Arctic. It is located close to the magnetic north pole, which makes it especially well-suited for geophysical and atmospheric studies, and all satellites in polar orbits are “visible” from Svalbard. All of the different geological time periods are represented in the archipelago. Institutions from about 20 different countries are currently conducting research in Svalbard, in addition to Norway.
International cooperation in the field of marine research will be strengthened by a new marine laboratory in New Ålesund in Svalbard, which has been in operation since being opened on 1 June 2005.