Norwegian researchers hooked on EU research

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Map of the European Union

For half of the participants from Norway involved in EU research programs, one EU research project is not enough. Once they have cracked the code and gained access to the world of European research cooperation, many give priority to the largest research arena in the world

According to figures published in the EU statistics database from 2002 up to the present, some 50 percent of all Norwegian companies and institutions that participate in research cooperation in the EU are currently involved in more than one project, or have previously been involved in other projects.

In from the cold with cutting-edge traffic technologies

“EU research has put our company on the map,” says Hans Christian Bolstad, Vice President R&D at Q-Free ASA. The company supplies traffic surveillance systems and road toll technology in a large number of countries. Their involvement in one project gave rise to contacts that invited them to participate in another. The company first took part in an EU research project in 1989 and has participated in a total of 18 projects to date.

Collaborative research activities have made Q-Free one of the front runners in development, thus enabling the company to take part in defining the standards for their field of work.

“This has clearly increased our competitive advantage on the market. Demand tends to increase dramatically in response to established standards. We have been able to deliver the right product at the right time,” says Bolstad.

Large-scale project with lasting effects

Q-Free is currently participating in a large-scale EU project involving 60 partners from 12 countries, where the aim is to create a wireless network for car-to-roadside communication. This will make it possible, for example, to warn cars about the traffic situation further ahead, thus making traffic safer and more efficient.

Strategic applications

As they have gained more experience of EU research, Q-Free has refined its strategies for applying for EU projects. As the company’s research activities will only be partially funded from the EU, they give priority to projects that have business potential.

“The application process itself takes time and energy, and we have now learned how to maximise our chances of success,” explains Bolstad. In his opinion they have become better equipped to identify the type of consortia that can make it to the top. They have also found that cooperation is most effective when all those involved have differentiated, clearly defined roles.

“We focus on EU research because it puts us at the forefront of research,” says Hilde Fagerli, head of the Air Pollution Section at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. Since 2002 the institute has participated in 18 EU projects and the Air Pollution Section is currently involved in five of them.

“Research cooperation can help us to ensure that our air pollution models are among the best in Europe. Our work forms the basis for political decision-making so our recommendations need to carry internationally-recognized scientific weight,” emphasizes Fagerli.

Networks essential

She advises others who are interested in participating in EU research projects to attend international conferences and to profile their own expertise. It is important to find the right people to work with and establish a strong international network so that you are invited to join in the high-quality projects.

“Sometimes the whole thing seems too complicated and daunting. But we will continue to give priority to EU research in the future because we want to be involved where new things are happening,” states Fagerli.

Source: Research Council of Norway

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