Building Nordic Strength Through More Open R&D Funding – Study 3

The Next Step in NORIA

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Research and innovation are the primary corner stones in efforts to strengthen economic competitiveness in an ever more globalised economy. This study states that the small Nordic nations face fierce challenges within research and innovation, and recommends that Nordic research cooperation be strengthened. The study points out that NORIA (Nordic Research and Innovation Area) could be strengthened at little cost by selective mutual opening of national R&D programs. Finally it is analysed what could happen to Nordic states’ interests under a number of different circumstances, specifically a strong/weak ERA (European Research Area) in combination with a strong/weak NORIA. The study concludes that a strong implementation of NORIA would in all cases produce the best position for Nordic actors. The study is compiled for the Nordic Council of Ministers by Technopolis, which has been aided by a reference group with representatives from the Nordic Research Board (NordForsk), Nordic Innovation Centre, Nordic Energy Research and the Nordic Council of Ministers. This study is part of a series of four studies, bearing the common title ”The Nordic Region as a Winner in the Global Innovation Economy”, singling out policy areas, which are relevant for the Nordic countries in the light of globalisation and increased pressures on national economic competitiveness.



A Bottom-Up Approach to Mutual Opening of Programmes

This chapter draws conclusions based on the arguments set out in the report and makes a policy proposal. A modest, incremental approach to opening R&D programmes and activities in response to signals about opportunities generated bottom-up has promise for strengthening the Nordic area. The element of co-planning is probably more important than the details of how these common opportunities are funded. However, the “two pillar” Nordic agency system based on NICe and NordForsk lacks the horizontal structures needed to identify and exploit all the opportunities. We therefore propose that the Council of Ministers starts to develop a more holistic approach to research and innovation by creating joint activities between different Councils of Ministers’ spheres and funding the planning of “Nordic Platforms” that can propose specific measures for mutual opening of R&D funding and other cooperation measures among Nordic countries.


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