interdisciplinary road rails

NordForsk awards funding to 12 new interdisciplinary research projects

With a total budget of roughly NOK 176 million, the programme spans a wide range of research topics, from narwhal tusks to smart textiles to historical perspectives on pandemics.

Interdisciplinary research

The value of interdisciplinarity is widely recognised amid the rising global demand for research projects that extend across traditional boundaries between research areas and disciplines. Combining methods, data, perspectives, concepts and theories from different disciplines is crucial for producing new, valuable knowledge.

Here in the Nordic region as well, research with an interdisciplinary approach is important.

Professor of Mathematics Jan Philip Solovej is on the Programme Committee of NordForsk’s Programme for Interdisciplinary Research. He believes that strengthening interdisciplinarity is vital in order to generate synergies in the interfaces between the disciplines and a broader-based perspective. According to the professor, these synergies occur naturally when projects transcend a monodisciplinary research approach. Nordic cooperation provides greater opportunity to exploit the variety and depth of scientific expertise held across the Nordic countries.

Professor Solovej also says that these projects generate Nordic added value in a number of ways. “Some projects strengthen Nordic research cooperation and build Nordic expertise within important research fields, while others directly address Nordic topics such as Arctic research or studies related to Nordic languages.”

Director of NordForsk Arne Flåøyen says:

“Traditionally, researchers work within their own disciplines, but many research breakthroughs occur when researchers from different disciplines work together to solve a problem. Interdisciplinary research requires a different form of work and collaboration than when working within a single discipline. With this announcement, NordForsk has prompted researchers to think and work creatively across disciplines, and I am sure that we will get exciting results that will create Nordic added value.”


Record number of grant applications

In the first round of the grant application process, with a submission deadline nearly a year ago, NordForsk received a record number of applications: 337 grant proposals. Now, after the second application round, 12 projects have been awarded funding.

Jan Philip Solovej praised the high quality of grant applications. “It was impressive how many extraordinary proposals we received. Narrowing the field down to the very best ones was truly difficult, but the international panels did a superb job. One funding requirement was that projects had to incorporate interdisciplinary research with Nordic cooperation. But once that prerequisite was satisfied, scientific excellence was the most important criterion. It is a pleasure to see so much scientific diversity among the selected projects.”

Anna Herou agrees. She is a Senior Adviser at NordForsk and is responsible for the Programme for Interdisciplinary Research.

“This was the highest number of grant applications ever received for a NordForsk call,” says Ms Herou. “The sheer volume shows there is widespread interest in interdisciplinary research in the Nordic countries, and that there is a need for this kind of funding.”

Nordic funders of research

The Nordic Programme for Interdisciplinary Research is a collaborative effort between: the Independent Research Fund Denmark; Formas of Sweden; the Swedish Research Council; the Icelandic Centre for Research - Rannís; the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte); the Research Council of Norway; the Academy of Finland; and NordForsk.

The 12 new research projects

The 12 newly funded projects involve researchers from Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Also taking part from outside the Nordic region are researchers from Germany, Tajikistan, Russia and the US.