– NordForsk will be a visible and sought-after partner in the Nordic research system

– NordForsk will be a visible and sought-after partner in the Nordic research system

On January 1 2018, Arne Flåøyen took over the directorship of NordForsk. He comes from the position as Head of Department at the Norwegian Veterinary Institute, where he has been a researcher and leader for over 20 years. “I see NordForsk as a catalyst for Nordic research cooperation, and my aim is to make NordForsk an even more visible, sought-after partner in the Nordic research system,” says Dr Flåøyen.

“There are two things that have followed me my entire professional career: I am passionate about research and I am deeply committed to cooperation, particularly international cooperation. My various positions at the Norwegian Veterinary Institute, with responsibility for research for many years, have convinced me that we make research better by bringing together the best and the brightest within an area in collaboration. Moreover, exchanging experiences with, and being inspired by, colleagues in other subject areas and countries makes us better researchers,” he says.

He adds: “My time as leader of a steering group under what was then called the Nordic Forestry, Veterinary and Agricultural University (NOVA) sparked my interest in Nordic cooperation. My experiences there showed me that the Nordic region has tremendous value as a cultural and structural community, and our countries also have much in common in terms of history, language, values and development. On our own we are small, but together we can help to solve the grand societal challenges.”

“We can play a part in safeguarding the Nordic model and, not least, we can help our researchers to break through in the international research arena. I’m looking forward to getting started at NordForsk and I’m excited about working to further develop Nordic research cooperation. The thought of strengthening the Nordic community in this ever-changing world is inspiring.”

Twenty years as a researcher and leader

Arne Flåøyen is a trained veterinarian and has conducted clinical research in the field of veterinary medicine. He has spent the past 20 years as a researcher and leader at the Norwegian Veterinary Institute.

“I began doing research during my second year at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science. I ran field trials each summer until I completed my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and then completed my Ph.D. shortly after that. I published a great deal during the first 10–12 years of my career and qualified as a professor. However, I admitted to myself that my strengths lay in leadership rather than conducting my own research, and I therefore chose to pursue a career in management. I completed a Master of Management at the BI Norwegian Business School, among other things,” explains Dr Flåøyen.

NordForsk’s new director was a member of the Research Board of the Division for Science at the Research Council of Norway from 2011 to 2015, which gave him a wide range of experience that he can draw on in his new role.

“The Research Board of the Division for Science is responsible for funding basic research, independent projects, scientific equipment and infrastructure. Since I come from the research institute sector, which primarily conducts applied research, my work on the research board has provided valuable insight into both basic research and the conditions that influence research quality in the university sector. This knowledge will be beneficial to me in my role as Director of NordForsk,” he says.

Taking over after Gunnel Gustafsson

Gunnel Gustafsson has led NordForsk since 2010 and prior to that was a member of the NordForsk Board. Dr. Flåøyen sees her as a hard act to follow.

“Gunnel Gustafsson has led NordForsk for eight of the 12 years the organisation has existed. She has unique experience in and knowledge about Nordic research cooperation. I look forward to working with the talented staff of the NordForsk secretariat to build on the results that have been achieved under her leadership,” he says.

Broad international experience

Dr Flåøyen has wide-ranging experience with international research cooperation via his own research activities and as Project Officer under the European Commission. He has also been an evaluator of project proposals for EU funding.

“I have participated in international research cooperation and built research groups and networks. My activities as project officer gave me insight into and experience with how the EU research system functions politically, strategically and operationally,” he explains.

Will work closely with the Nordic research councils

Arne Flåøyen believes that NordForsk must be recognised as a facilitator of productive research cooperation and not be perceived as a competitor to the national research councils or the EU.

“I see NordForsk as a driver and facilitator of Nordic research cooperation. NordForsk must engage in constructive dialogue with the national researchfunding institutions and be the platform they choose to use for promoting high-quality, relevant research within, for and on the Nordic countries. NordForsk is responsible for a unique niche in the Nordic research system, and in that area NordForsk must be clear, visible, closely involved and accessible. We will be a guarantor of good quality, and NordForsk must be perceived as flexible and a good listener,” he concludes.

Høybråten looking forward to collaboration

The Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Dagfinn Høybråten, is looking forward to working with Dr Flåøyen. “As new director, Arne Flåøyen will bring broad-based experience from the research sphere and society at large to NordForsk. I’m looking forward to collaborating with him on further expanding Nordic research cooperation,” states the Secretary General. 

About Arne Flåøyen

Born: 27 July 1962

Nationality: Norwegian

Currently: Dr Flåøyen is taking over the directorship of NordForsk from Gunnel Gustafsson, who has led the organisation since 2010.

Education: Dr Flåøyen earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and two Ph.D. degrees at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science. He also completed a Master of Management at the BI Norwegian Business School.

Background: Dr Flåøyen is leaving the position of Head of Department for Fish Health at the Norwegian Veterinary Institute. He also has international experience from his work as Project Officer at the Directorate for Biotechnologies, Agriculture and Food Research under the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation. He was a member of the Research Board of the Division for Science at the Research Council of Norway from 2011 to 2015.

Text: Tor Martin Nilsen 

Photo: Kurt Gaasø

This article has previously been published in NordForsk Magazine 2017

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