The Top-level Research Initiative is creating results

It is impressive how much the Top-level Research Initiative (TRI) cooperation has already performed, only two years after the Nordic Prime Ministers agreed to begin. Several speakers pointed to this fact during the first Top-level Research Inititative Annual Conference in Copenhagen.
 The Top-level Research Initiative is creating results
Flagship for Nordic Cooperation
The TRI Annual Conference took place in Copenhagen 15-16 September. The Initiative has over a relatively short period of time become a flagship for the Nordic cooperation.

90 participants attended the conference in the National Museum. They could hear about development and experiences so far, status for individual programmes and projects, and what will be the steps ahead.

Dialogue is important
- TRI addresses the greatest challenge of our time and shows the strength and opportunity that we, as a region, have to meet this challenge. It is an instrument to integrate research and innovation in the Nordic region and an inspiration for European research co-operation, said Head of Department, Gard Titlestad, from the Nordic Council of Ministers in his opening speech.

- We have every reason to be content with the progress over the first two years, stated NordForsk Director Gunnel Gustafsson. - But we cannot sit down and wait for research results alone. Equally important as results is the dialogue created through research cooperation.

Gustafsson pointed to the attention TRI received last summer at EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF), and how the Nordic cooperation and TRI can work as a models for other regional and international cooperation. At the same time, she mentioned challenges experienced by the complex organizing of TRI. Even if TRI can function more effectively than international cooperation in general, time has come to look at how the TRI management might be simplified.

Communicating science
The paleontologist Jørn Hurum from the University of Oslo was invited to talk about science communication. He based his speech on his own experiences with international media attention in relation to his excavations of monster reptiles at Svalbard, and the 47 million year old fossil Ida.

Hurum is well known for his abilities to communicate science to non-specialists and in the media. 1.5 billion Google clicks were registered on the fossil Ida through the first 26 hours after it was made public.

Hurum underlined how important it is to make research accessibly to other audiences than fellow scientists, and to be prepared when talking to the media.

Programmes and projects
A large portion of the Annual Conference was dedicated to TRI programmes and projects.

The participants were informed that Denmark is on the way to cover half the EL consume from wind power, they could listen to polar scientists concerned about the melting of the world’s ice depots, and how CO2 storage below ground is becoming a mature technology.

Agreement easily obtained
Marit Larsen, manager of the sub-programme committee for ”CO2 – capture and storage” explained in her speech how surprisingly easy it had been to obtain agreement on priorities among the Nordic participants within this sub-programme.

Other speakers pointed to the challenges in relation to creating a common identity in a virtual Nordic research centre, where the participants are placed at different locations most of the time.

Nordic federation
The closing session at the annual conference was given to the Swedish historian Gunnar Wetterberg, who was invited to talk about Nordic cooperation as he sees it.

Wetterberg made an engaged and thought-provoking speech about how important it is to join forces in a Nordic federation. – Together the Nordic countries are the world’s 10th or 11th largests economies. But we are not being heard, and we will not be heard, in the organisations where the agenda for international discussion is made. This is happening in important fields such as economy and the environment. As individual countries we are not listened to! said Wetterberg.

The speech created a lot of engagement in the audience, and created debate on Nordic cooperation also beyond the Top-level research Initiative.

Read the article of the Nordic Council of Ministers on the conference here

Read more about the Top-level Research Iniviative here

Text: Bård Amundsen Photo: Johannes Jansson, and Bård Amundsen (Jørn Hurum)

- Gunnel Gustafsson, NordForsk Director and Rolf Annerberg, Chair of the TRI Management Board
- 90 participants were present at the first TRI Annual Conference
- Jørn Hurum
- The performance group Trash made an original show at the Annual Conference
- Gunnar Wetterberg created engagement with his talk about Nordic Cooperation
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