New NordForsk Director

Gunnel Gustafsson is appointed new director in NordForsk and will enter her new position 1 January 2010. Gustafsson leaves her position as Deputy Director General at the Swedish Research Council, and has been a member of the NordForsk Board since the institution was established in 2005. Her academic background is within the political sciences.
 New NordForsk Director
- The Board is very excited about the appointment of Professor Gunnel Gustafsson as the new director of NordForsk. The organisation is very fortunate to get such an experienced and competent leader at this time who has a clear vision of the opportunities inherent in Nordic collaboration. The Board looks forward to working with her at this challenging time, says Professor Gudrun Nordal, Chair of the NordForsk Board.

Gunnel Gustafsson has an extensive background and insight into research cooperation and politics nationally as well as internationally, in addition to her knowledge about NordForsk from her board position. Her background and large network in Sweden and the other Nordic countries will contribute to strengthening the cooperation between NordForsk and the national key players in the research field. In addition, Gustafsson has worked closely with the development of European research collaboration, and has played a role within this field under the Swedish Chairmanship for the European Union in the autumn 2009.

- Being the new leader of NordForsk is a very important mission, Gustafsson states. I look forward to the varied tasks with enthusiasm and expectations. The Top-level Research Initiative involves a practical collaboration between the three Nordic institutions NordForsk, Nordic Innovations Centre and Nordic Energy Research. This may constitute a stepping stone for continued Nordic collaboration across traditional sector borders. The NordForsk staff are highly competent, and I have great expectations. Together we have the opportunity to create a platform for Nordic collaboration which can complete the already substantial national actions and further increase the quality of Nordic research.

- Which are the challenges of NordForsk, and what area will be the most important in the initial face?

The current challenge for NordForsk is to become even more visible and respected, both within the Nordic region and in Europe. After the initial five years, it is time to focus the efforts in a way that will maximize the effect of the relatively small recourses available. We must create incentives for participation in Nordic cooperation, but at the same time respect that the individual countries at times need to take different paths. My vision is that the Nordic cooperation shall be characterized by the knowledge that our five small countries in the outskirts of Europe have a lot to gain by acting together. Formulating and obtaining acceptance for a strategy with this goal is the task I will take on first of all.

- What are the challenges and opportunities implied in the national, Nordic and European levels – possibly with reference to the Lund Declaration?

These are global times that are characterized by rapid changes in our community. In a situation like this, the collaboration between the global, national, European and local areas is of utmost importance. In line with the Lund Declaration prepared during the Swedish presidency, European research after the termination of the current framework in 2013, shall focus on strengthening the researcher initiated and inter-disciplinary research collaboration. The latter aims to meet our mutual contemporary challenges, such as climate change, business restructuring, global health problems etc. In order to transform our problems into opportunities, we need to integrate social sciences and humanities into research aiming to create progress and development in our world.

Text: Anne Riiser
Photo: The Swedish Research Council
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