This article was produced and financed by The Research Council of Norway

Seventeen projects to generate knowledge about ecosystems

A total of NOK 240 million has been awarded to 17 projects to study the responses of ecosystems to changes in climate and the environment as well as the cumulative effects on the ecosystem.

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The Research Council of Norway

The Research Council of Norway is a government agency responsible for awarding grands for research as well as promoting research and science. It also advises the government in matters related to research.

“In order to gain a coherent understanding of ecosystems we have to look at climate and polar research, marine research and environmental research in an integrated perspective. I am pleased that we can allocate as much as NOK 240 million to research projects within this thematic area,” states Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council of Norway.

Large-scale, joint call for proposals

The call was co-financed by the Large-scale Programme on Climate Research (KLIMAFORSK), the Polar Research Programme (POLARPROG), the Oceans and Coastal Areas Programme (HAVKYST), and the programme Norwegian Environmental Research towards 2015 (MILJO2015).

“We have received grant applications for large-scale projects encompassing major, comprehensive, topics that could not be realised under individual calls from each programme. Researchers who do not usually cooperate have now joined forces to develop project proposals. We believe this will significantly boost their scientific activities,” Mr Hallén says.

Cross-disciplinarity and broad-based collaboration are also central components in the new EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020. The Norwegian call for proposals has mobilised researchers and enhanced their ability to compete for funding under the European framework programme as well.

Green light from the ministries
We have received grant applications for large-scale projects encompassing major, comprehensive, topics that could not be realised under individual calls from each programme, says Arvid Hallen. (Photo: Sverre Jarild)
We have received grant applications for large-scale projects encompassing major, comprehensive, topics that could not be realised under individual calls from each programme, says Arvid Hallen. (Photo: Sverre Jarild)

The allocated funding comes primarily from the Ministry of Climate and Environment and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries. The ministries also recognise the value in a large-scale, joint call.

“If we are going to safeguard biodiversity in keeping with national and international objectives, we need greater insight into ecosystems and how they function. The Research Council’s joint call is vital to achieving this end,” states Tine Sundtoft, Minister of Climate and Environment.

High quality

A total of 180 grant applications seeking altogether close to NOK 2.2 billion were submitted for the call. The quality of the applications received was very high.

“We could have awarded twice the amount we have and still been funding excellent projects,” says Mr Hallén, who thinks it is unfortunate to have to reject numerous viable research projects due to limited funding.

“Norway has world-leading research groups within a wide spectrum of climate, polar and marine research. This made the competition between very good projects particularly tough.”

“The research projects that have been awarded grants will target the major societal challenges we are facing. This will be an important priority in the future as well,” the director general emphasises.

Climate research and marine and maritime research are priority areas in the Government's long-term plan for research and higher education. The Research Council is following this prioritisation up in its input to the national budget for 2016.

Top biology groups in Norway

One project has been awarded over NOK 40 million and will be coordinated at the national level. In this project, three of the top biology groups in Norway will be working together to study the cumulative effects of changes in climate and the environment on marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments.

The project will be headed by Professor Nils Christian Stenseth of the University of Oslo. The Research Council is generally pleased that there is a satisfactory gender balance among project managers and that several of the project managers are young researchers.

Much of the funding has been awarded to researchers in North Norway. Several of the projects will be carried out in the Arctic. Many of the projects have widespread relevance for the government administration and various industries.

All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their applications including the assessments of the review panels shortly after the New Year. The Research Council will initiate contract negotiations with the projects awarded funding in early 2015.

About the call for proposals

The application deadline for the call was 3 September 2014. A total of 180 grant applications were received, seeking altogether NOK 2,196,054,000 in funding.

The applications have been assessed by international expert referees. The final decisions regarding grant awards were taken by a committee comprised of representatives of the programme boards of the four programmes involved, headed by Tore Furevik of the University of Bergen.

This joint call is co-financed by the Large-scale Programme on Climate Research (KLIMAFORSK), the Polar Research Programme (POLARPROG), the Oceans and Coastal Areas Programme (HAVKYST), and the programme Norwegian Environmental Research towards 2015 (MILJO2015).

Translated by: Glenn Wells/Carol B. Eckmann.

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