Norden 1They requested that the Council of Ministers draw up a proposal and put it to the ministers for co-operation. The aim is to work hand in hand with business to promote Nordic excellence in research. When the prime ministers met again in early April in Riksgränsen in the far north of Sweden, several of them advocated making co-operation on research an even higher priority.

The Steering Group for the Research Excellence Initiative has now submitted an ambitious proposal for a programme covering energy, climate and the environment to the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, Halldór Ásgrímsson.

"All of the Nordic countries use their research and innovation abilities and competitiveness as means of coping with global challenges. The discussions about excellence in research were promising and the proposal was well received - it will be a great help in the future. The proposal will now be discussed in greater depth by other politicians and civil servants. It is ambitious, but research is expensive. It will send a strong signal if the Region decides to invest even more heavily in climate and environment research in the run-up to the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in 2009,"Ásgrímsson said after Riksgränsen meeting.

The proposal focuses on relevant problems and model solutions for responses to climate change. The programme would cover climate research and policy as well as innovation and system solutions in the energy sector.

"Due to their geography, the Nordic countries share climate conditions. That presents special challenges but also opportunities for increasing our knowledge base and adopting joint innovative solutions to the climate changes we are currently experiencing. Solutions of this type require heavy investments in research and innovation,"says the chair of the steering group, Lena Gustafsson, who is Deputy Director General of Vinnova in Sweden.

"The proposal calls for a strong Nordic excellence in research and innovation programme covering the energy, climate and environment sectors,"said Professor Peter Lund of Helsinki University of Technology, who was the project manager.

The proposal has now been sent to various councils of ministers and other Nordic bodies, which have until 5 May to respond with any comments. After that, if deemed appropriate, the steering group will present an amended proposal to the ministers for Nordic co-operation at their next meeting, 12 -13 June 2008.

The prime ministers reinvigorate Nordic co-operation: