For this month's feature on international science, we head up to some of the most northern European countries--Norway and Finland--to see what kinds of initiatives are in place to promote international science. To outsiders, these countries may give off a message of self-sufficiency that can even be interpreted as aloofness. Yet their minority languages and the extensive use of English as a second language make the Nordic countries, in many ways, more accessible to foreigners than many states of central, southern, and Eastern Europe.
The following programmes promote international science in various ways, from supporting international mobility for national and/or foreign researchers, to supporting networks, and even to funding international conferences. Our list is in no way exhaustive, but we hope it will give you a taste of what is available.
FOCUS ON NORWAY
Heading to Norway
Those who are interested in spending a study or research period in Norway should look at the International Scholarships that the Research Council of Norway administers. The so-called Norwegian Government scholarships are open to young researchers from most European countries; only other Scandinavian countries (Sweden and Denmark) are excluded. Funding of €1300 per month is available to Ph.D. students for a period of up to 10 months. Applications should be sent to the relevant national authorities, and the selection of candidates is carried out in the home country. The application deadline for the Research Council of Norway is 1 February 2005, but national deadlines may be several months ahead, so please check with your national authority.
Funding for foreigner researchers of post-doc and higher level are also supported by the Research Council under the "Personal Visiting Reseracher Grant scheme". Candidates should firstly find a host institute who will sponsor thir applicaiton. Funding for a period of one year is available. Further information can be found here.
According to Mr. Per Magnus Kommandantvold of the Research Council of Norway, a good starting point for young researchers (both foreign and nations) to locate interesting research environments in Norway are the country's so-called "Centres of Excellence".
The Co-Operation Programme with Russia is a fellowship scheme with various options. Russian nationals who are master's/Ph.D. candidates or postdocs can apply for funding of up to€ 1300 monthly to cover stays in Norway of up to 10 months. More experienced researchers can apply for short-stay fellowships--2 weeks--with the opportunity to be involved with network building and project planning. Norwegian nationals are also eligible for guest researcher/lecturer fellowships for short stays--again 2 weeks--in northwestern Russia, to conduct research, give lectures, or initiate joint projects.
Although the deadline has just passed for this year's application (1 October 2004), French and Norwegian researchers should keep the Aurora Programme in mind for future reference. This scheme is run co-operatively between the Research Council of Norway and the French Embassy in Norway. This programme is open to researchers based in Norway and France and aims to strengthen research projects between Norwegian and French institutions, with a strong emphasis on providing opportunities for young researchers to collaborate. Funding is available for short-term mutual visits during two consecutive years. The grant can be used for travel and living expenses but not for salary or equipment costs.
A practically identical arrangement is in place for research collaboration between Germany and Norway. In this case the Research Council of Norway is working in co-operation with the German Academic Exchange Service. The deadline for next year's funding is also 1 October 2005; the programme is worth bookmarking for future reference.
Get Involved With a Network
Another initiative to stimulate collaboration and networking is the Nordplus Neighbour scheme. This project aims to develop long-term co-operation within fields of education and research. Nordplus Neighbour countries include Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the northwest region of Russia. The networks have to consist of at least two Nordic institutions in two different Nordic countries, and two institutions in two different adjacent area countries. Support is given to cover expenses incurred in the establishment of new networks or promoting existing ones. The maximum obtainable amount of support is €36,000 per academic year. Grants can be given for a maximum period of 3 years, and grants may also be awarded for periods shorter than one academic year. Take a look at the current networks that have already been funded for this year. Please note that not all networks are research-related.
NordProLink is an interesting project that gives young employees from small and medium-sized enterprises in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and northwest Russia (those "adjacent areas") the opportunity to work in an equivalent company in a Nordic country. This programme provides a training period up to 1 month and is open to applicants under the age of 35. More information can be found online.
Other Useful Information for Norway
What might not be widely known is that foreign researchers wishing to conduct their research in Norway and Norwegian researchers wishing to work abroad can use the European Commission funded Marie Curie Actions.
Young foreign researchers from EU members countries who are pursuing a PhD have the oppportunity to work in one of the Marie Curie Training Sites in Norway. A monthly allowance of €1200, for a a period of 3 -12 months is available, in addition to funding for travel and research costs. For work supported under the 6th Framework Programme, researchers from candidate countries and associate countries can also apply.
The Norwegian edition of the European Researchers Mobility Portal and Mobility Centre will be coming online in the next few months. Keep an eye on the following link for details.
For an overview on the opportunties available for foreigner researchers in Norway please click here.
Norway also a member of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBO) and European Science Foundation (ESF) and are also a member of the following organisations that provide opportunities for mobile researchers (only available in Norwegian.)
FOCUS ON FINLAND
International Mobility--in Both Directions
The national research funding body in Finland is the Academy of Finland, which offers opportunities both for Finnish researchers who want to work abroad and for foreign researchers who would like to visit Finland.
Grants are available for Finland-based Ph.D. candidates and postdocs to work abroad for a period lasting at least one semester, for purposes of researcher training. Priority is given to fields in which equivalent training is not available in Finland. This form of funding is also open to researchers who wish to move to international research institutes such as the IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis), CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research), EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory), and EUI (European University Institute). The funding includes a personal grant (the amount varies depending on the host country; see the academy's reference guide for term fees and other similar fixed payments, travel expenses, and other expenses incurred in the course of the research. If the period abroad is more than 6 months, the travel expenses of accompanying family members may also be remunerated. Applications should be submitted by individual researcher. The biannual deadlines are in January and September.
Going to Finland
Foreign researchers who are interested in working in Finland can apply for funding through the leader of the research project of the Finnish institution at which they wish to work. In other words, the university or research institute applies on behalf of the foreign researcher. The funding covers salary; travel costs may also be compensated and will cover accompanying family members if the visit lasts more than 6 months. The applications can be submitted throughout the year. Further information can be found online.
Researcher Exchange Grants
The Academy of Finland also awards personal exchange grants for research co-operation with many countries--Argentina, Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Taiwan, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, India, Iran, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the Ukraine--allowing Finnish researchers to work in the partner countries and vice versa. This funding is aimed at researchers in training and those who have recently earned their Ph.D. Conditions and submission procedures vary depending on where the researchers wish to go; details can be found online.
Organise an International Conference
Money is also available for those wishing to organise international scientific conferences in Finland, with priority given to those hosting conferences of international scientific organisations. The amount awarded is usually up to 30% of the conference's total expenses. The annual deadline for receipt of completed applications is September; however, applications for small conferences may be submitted throughout the year. Further information about the academy's funding schemes that promote international mobility is available online.
Centre for International Mobility in Finland
The Centre for International Mobility in Finland ( CIMO) is a governmental organisation that promotes international mobility and cross-cultural communication. It awards a host of scholarships, including some for scientific research, for both Finnish and international Ph.D. candidates and postdocs. Applicants are accepted from all countries, although collaboration with Nordic countries, the Baltic states, and countries in Central and Eastern Europe are particularly welcome. Scholarship programme details and requirements vary. Further information for visiting Finnish institutions can be found on the CIMO Web site, and Finnish candidates wishing to go abroad should also look online.
If you are more interested in industrial collaborations, Tekes, the publicly funded Finnish R&D organisation, has an international programme that offers assistance to foreign companies and research institutes in their search for the most suitable Finnish partners. Such collaboration is guided and conducted through their technology programmes. More information is available online.