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NordForsk committee seeks to enhance Nordic cooperation on research infrastructure

A wide array of actors working with national or international infrastructure were invited to the meeting in Oslo. The committee chair, Vice President for Research at the Academy of Finland Riitta Maijala, opened the meeting by highlighting the committee’s most important tasks: identifying opportunities for Nordic research infrastructure collaboration, and providing strategic advice to the NordForsk Board and the organisations represented by committee members on Nordic measures and how to achieve national support for these.

In addition, Dr Maijala headed up a discussion about how to strengthen Nordic use of research infrastructure across national borders and how to increase interaction between existing national infrastructures in order to share best practice in the field. The question of how to boost Nordic participation in the planning and implementation of European and international infrastructure projects was also discussed.

Yannis Ioannidis, Greek delegate to the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) and member of the ESFRI Executive Board, as well as President of Athena Research & Innovation Center, participated from his home country by Skype. He gave a brief presentation of developments in ESFRI collaboration. In this connection, Asbjørn Mo of the Research Council of Norway noted how paradoxical it is that the Nordic countries are independently taking part in international projects, while there is still a lack of widespread Nordic cooperation in the area.

Two representatives of existing Nordic research infrastructure networks, Kristian Hveem (Joint Nordic Biobank Research Infrastructure) and Kay Gastinger (Nordic NanoLab Network), were invited to share their experiences of what has been achieved within the framework of their respective networks. Both underscored the added value that working together at the Nordic level can provide, including sharing best practice with one another in education and gaining more clout in the international arena by working together.

Seeking to enhance Nordic cooperation
The discussions at a mini-workshop and the concluding panel debate – which included Riitta Maijala, Kristian Hveem representing the Nordic Biobank Collaboration at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Per Dannetun of Linköping University and representative of the URFI group (a high-level reference group of Swedish universities and institutes) – revolved around the major, untapped potential of cross-border, Nordic collaboration on research infrastructure.

One of the main points presented at the meeting was that the infrastructure committee and other stakeholders need to devise initiatives that will strengthen and expand the use of Nordic research infrastructure and, when relevant, better link efforts to European and global infrastructure.