Nordic initiative on Health and Welfare


The research area seeks to generate knowledge on the effect of demographic, social, environmental and biological factors on human health and the challenges this implies for human welfare, and to translate this new knowledge into practical solutions in healthcare and welfare systems. Health and welfare are seen in a broad perspective. Welfare in this context entails not only welfare and unemployment benefits, but also education and the labour market.

These efforts could in the longer run lead to better specified disease classifications, more efficient cures for patients, better disease prevention and more efficient welfare systems.

The Nordic initiative on Health and Welfare aims to increase public health and welfare in the Nordic countries by:

  • Applying Nordic research and research infrastructure collaboration to address urgent societal problems related to health and wellbeing;
  • Developing new knowledge about the underlying causes of uneven distribution of health and welfare using a multidisciplinary research approach;
  • Enhancing Nordic collaboration on research infrastructures, including use of population-based registers and biobanks in Nordic research projects;
  • Exploring the use of various innovation concepts such as user-driven and open innovation to support research-driven innovation within health and welfare;
  • Adding scientific value in terms of critical mass and composition, better resource utilisation, and enabling researchers to make use of larger data sets;
  • Mobilising and qualifying Nordic research communities for participation in international activities for example under the EU framework programmes.


The Nordic initiative on Health and Welfare was initially a cooperative effort between the Academy of Finland, the Danish Council for Independent Research | Medical Sciences, the Icelandic Centre for Research (Rannís), the Research Council of Norway, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (FORTE), the Swedish Research Council and NordForsk.

The research area was created on the recommendation of the working group NORIA-net on Health and Welfare who in 2012 advised Nordforsk to establish a large Nordic health programme. A Programme Commmitte with representatives of these funders was appointed in 2014 and has issued five calls within the research area.

Calls initiated after 2018 have been a collaboration with even more financiers. These announcements have had their own committees, with the participation of the financiers.

The Nordic initiative on Health and Welfare seeks to meet the need for increased Nordic research cooperation within health and welfare as defined by various Nordic working groups or organisations: NORIA-net on Health and Welfare, NORIA-net on Sport Sciences, NORIA-net on Registers and Biobanks, and the Joint Committee of the Nordic Medical Research Councils (NOS-M).


The Committee comprises representatives for the participating funding organisations:

  • Erland Hjelmquist, Professor, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, Chair (NordForsk representative)
  • Jørgen Frøkiær, Professor, The Danish Council for Independent Research
  • Sara Illman, Programme Manager, Research Council of Finland
  • Ása Guðrún Kristjánsdóttir, Senior Adviser, Rannís, Iceland
  • Berit Nygaard, Special Adviser, The Research Council of Norway
  • Cecilia Beskow, Head of Research, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
  • Madeleine Durbeej-Hjalt, Professor, Secretary General of Medicine and Health at the Swedish Research Council

Funded projects


Portrait of Kristin Andersen.

Kristin Andersen

Special Adviser
Maria Nilsson

Maria Nilsson

Special Adviser