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Horizon 2020

External financing opens many doors

Climate researcher Eystein Jansen believes external financing has been vital for the success of the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research. He has good advice for researchers that seek external financing through Horizon 2020.

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Eystein Jansen
Professor Eystein Jansen has been awarded many prestigious grants over the years. Today he is a Principal Investigator in the Ice2ice-project, with one of only 24 ERC Synergy Grants awarded so far.

"I believe that external financing is vital for research on a high level", Jansen says.

Since the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research became one of the first Norwegian Centres of Excellence (CoE/SFF) in 2002, he has been been awarded many prestigious grants.

80 billion euros

The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020 is entering its final three years. From 2014-2020, the programme will award 80 billion euros to research and innovation. According to the Research Council of Norway, close to 50 billion euros have still not been awarded. That creates many possibilities for research communities in the coming years.

Statistics from june 2017, shows that researchers from UiB have been awarded 61 projects, out of 320 applications. That makes a success rate of 19,1 per cent, which is the best in the country, ahead of NTNU and The University of Oslo.

The latter institutions have each sent in approximately twice as many applications as UiB. Researchers at UiO have so far been awarded 50 million euros, NTNU 42 million euros, and UiB 34,9 million euros through Horizon 2020.

From this, one can interpret that the applications from The University of Bergen are of high quality, but that there is potential for a larger number of researchers to make use of the programme.

An important part of the success

Eystein Jansen is one of the most renowned climate researcers in the world. In 2012, he resigned as the leader for The Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, which he built up, but he is still affiliated with the centre. He is professor in Earth Sciences /Paleoclimatology at the Department of Earth Science at the University of Bergen.

Jansen says external financing has been an important part of the success of the Bjerknes Centre.

"External financing gave us access to the best research environments in Europe. That goes, of cource, for the status as Centre of Excellence, which is in a league of its own, but also for many EU-grants. This gave us many exciting projects and ideas. In addition, we recruited talented students and researchers to the centre and UiB", he says.

The fundings made it possible for the Bjerknes Centre to conduct research at the highest level, becoming one of the leading centres for climate research in the world. 

Useful research

Jansen states that is has been important for him to focus on themes that are useful for society, and to build good networks. In the process, they try to see how their research can benefit other research groups and projects.

"Cooperating with researchers from other fields gives new perspectives, and new methods. It stimulates our own research, and makes us think in new directions, rather than repeat what we have already done. I believe it is of great importance for researchers to be open to new perspectives, and to look for partners not only in academia, but also in industry and public administration", Jansen says.

Many benefits

Prorector Margareth Hagen encourages more UiB-researchers to seek external financing from Horizon 2020.

"The most important thing is not to get money in itself, but the results we get from the funding. Cooperation in projects through Horizon 2020 gives our researchers many benefits, for instance larger international networks, visibility, and inspiration to look at challenges in new lights", she says. 

Hagen sees great potential in more international cooperation, both between faculties, and between academia and industry. 

"Groundbreaking research is often multidisciplinary", she states.

International cooperation

At a conference about Horizon 2020 on October 31st, Kristin Danielsen, International director at The Research Council of Norway, confirmed that researchers should use international networks, be multidisciplinary, and see links between research and the community in their applications. 

Per Magnus Kommandantvold, Special avisor at the Research Council, added that one should also focus on training networks.

"Being awarded, for instance, a Marie Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN), will strenghten the CV of the researcher or research group, and be benefitial when applying for larger grants, like ERC, at a later time" he said.

Here he mentioned Andreas Hejnol at the Sars centre at UiB, who was recently awarded two new ITNs, and also holds an ERC grant. 

"Excellence promotes excellence", he said. 

More information about external financing can be found at UiBs "BOA" support pages.