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Research is by nature international

The Minister for Higher Education and Science Sofie Carsten Nielsen's speech at the annual meeting of the Danish Council for Strategic Research 10 March 2014 in Copenhagen.

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Research is by nature international

Dear Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Mr. Chairman, Friends of science
Thank you for the invitation to this annual conference.

In a moment I will present the two winners of the Councils’ Strategic Research Awards 2014. This is quite an honour.

But before that I would like to share some of my thoughts on the theme of the conference today.

By its very nature, research is a collaborative activity. And historically this collaboration has always included a strong international dimension.

This is also the case today. It strengthens Danish research when we work together with highly qualified international researchers. It provides access to the knowledge available globally.

And the growing complexity of research combined with challenges that are shared across borders is also a strong driver for international collaboration. 

Let me exemplify this with a European research project where Danish participation is funded by the Danish Council for Strategic Research.

The object of the research is not only a shared European challenge, but concerns a problem that is global.

How to beat the mystery of dementia

Today there are an estimated 44 million people in the world suffering from dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.

The number is expected to increase to over 115 million by 2050.

It is a major societal challenge. It’s a tragedy for the individual and their relatives. And it puts pressure on the welfare system. In Europe alone the yearly costs are estimated to DKK 970 billion. That is more than half of the Danish GDP.

Via the Council for Strategic Research Danish researchers are participating in a large European initiative that is addressing the challenges of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The aim of the research project is to be able to identify early changes in the brain, so it becomes possible to diagnose dementia more quickly.

It is a good example of the nature of international research collaboration.

Dementia is a complex disease. There is currently no cure. esearchers are still at the stage of developing drugs that will slow down the progression of the disease. And we do not know how to prevent the disease from occurring.

More knowledge and more research is crucial. But no single nation can cover the entire range of research needed in this area.

In other words: To beat the mystery of dementia and Alzheimer’s we need international research collaboration.

We strongly encourage international collaboration

I strongly support that internationalcollaboration is given such high priority by the Council for Strategic Research.

International participation has been achieved in more than 80 percent of the Council's funded project. The Council has signed bilateral agreements with India, China, Brazil and South Korea.

And the Council participates in a number of multilateral collaborations in Europe.

The Government has a strong focus on the international dimension of Danish research and education.

Let me shortly mention three recent initiatives:

  • The action plan for strengthening the
    internationalisation of higher education in Denmark
  • The strategy to support Danish participation in
    Horizon 2020
  • And finally, the establishment of The Danish
    Innovation Foundation

Last year we came with part one of an action plan aimed at strengthening the internationalisation of Danish higher
education.

It comprises a series of concrete initiatives aimed at accomplishing three main objectives:

More students should study abroad. Higher education institutions should have stronger international learning environments. And students should have better foreign language skills.

Part two of the action plan will focus on attracting and retaining international students.

The plan is focused on education. But it’s our young, talented students who are the future talented researchers. They are vital to the food chain. Therefore, it is important that their education has a strong international profile.

I believe most of you are familiar with Horizon 2020.

With more than DKK 500 billion - Horizon 2020 will be the largest transnational research- and innovation programme in the history of the European Union.

The opportunities for Danish universities, knowledge institutions, researchers and industry are immense.

And it is decisive that we are ambitious and use these opportunities. The Government has set the ambitious target that Danish researchers should take home 2.5 per cent of the Horizon 2020 budget. On average this is DKK 1.5 billion a year.

Today the Danish applicants have a high success rate in the European research programmes.

We shall continue along this line. And the Government will support these efforts.

We must pave the way for even more international collaboration. So we will devote DKK 26 million to help knowledge institutions and industry to get a bigger share of Horizon 2020 and other EU programmes.

Horizon 2020 represents a paradigm shift.

It is about finding new solutions to the societal challenges that the world is confronted with. It is about cooperation between researchers and industry - bridging research, innovation and production. And it is about creating results and solutions that can help create growth and jobs in Europe.

Going back to the research project on Dementia and Alzheimer’s - the international research collaboration will not only increase the knowledge on the disease.

But it will also strengthen the Danish pharmaceutical industry and create growth and jobs.

The Government has been greatly inspired by the thoughts behind Horizon 2020.

That goes for the visions behind the national innovation strategy for Denmark that was launched in December 2012. And it goes for the newly adopted Danish Innovation Foundation.

As you know by April this year we will merge three existing councils and funds into one: The Danish Innovation Foundation.

The Danish Council for Strategic Research is one of the three.

The Danish Innovation Foundation shall ensure that investments in research and development are transformed into solutions to societal challenges, new growth and new jobs.

It will simplify our funding system and make it more user-friendly. It will be a bigger, more coherent and more powerful foundation with an annual budget of DKK 1.5 billion.

And it will greatly prioritise international cooperation and participation in international forums.

This is not closing time

This is the last annual meeting of the Danish Council for Strategic Research. So let me take this opportunity to thank both present and former members of the Board and the Council’s programme commissions for your dedicated work.

The Council for Strategic Research has contributed with significant results for both Danish research and Danish society in general.

And this is not closing time. The new Danish Innovation Foundation will build on the good experience from the existing three councils and funds.

The new Foundation will not least continue and develop the strong international dimension which has been a hallmark for the Council for Strategic Research.

Research is by its very nature international. International collaboration strengthens Danish research. It strengthens the possibilities of finding new solutions to global challenges.
And it goes without saying – it will be an important brick in the building of the new Danish Innovation Foundation.

Thank you for your attention.

last modified Mar 31, 2014