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Call: NCoE "Solving the Gender Paradox"

The submission deadline for this call has passed
Application deadline
27.04.2016 14:00
Full call title

Solving the Gender Paradox. Gender Gaps in the Nordic Research and Innovation Area

Call for proposals - 1-2 Nordic Centres of Excellence


NordForsk, in collaboration with the Academy of Finland; the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare - FORTE; the Research Council of Norway; and the Icelandic Centre for Research - RANNÍS, is issuing a call for proposals for Nordic Centres of Excellence in a newly established programme entitled Solving the Nordic Gender Paradox: Gender Gaps in the Research and Innovation Area.

The Nordic countries are at the top of the European and global gender equality indices. However, within the research and innovation area, the Nordic countries only perform at a European average. This is a paradox and a problem, which NordForsk’s initiative seeks to address. The aim is for the Nordic countries to lead the way in tackling this societal challenge, which threatens quality, relevance and equal opportunity in the Nordic research and innovation area. This will be achieved by funding innovative and solution-oriented research.

Who is eligible to apply?

The call is open to international consortia of researchers and research groups from various sectors, including institutions of higher education, e.g., universities and other research institutions, and other organisations with a strong research focus. The formal applicant must be a legal entity based in one of the countries co-funding the programme. The consortium must involve partner institutions from at least three Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden or Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland Islands), i.e. institutions based or headquartered in one of these.

Thematic framework

The Nordic research and innovation area is losing a considerable amount of its female intellectual capacity. Female university students outnumber their male fellows. On PhD- and post doc.-levels the proportion is approximately 50/50. However, moving up the academic hierarchy, the share of women decreases.

When these career-building phases should materialise into senior positions or other central positions within research and innovation, it does not involve women to the same extent. According to the She Figures 2015, women hold on average only 25% of grade A positions in the Nordic countries (Denmark 19%).Thus for every female professor there are three to four male professors. Gender segregation of research fields combined with a narrow definition of innovation produces a significant gender imbalance within innovation.

There is already a significant body of knowledge on gender inequalities in the Nordic research and innovation area. There are also great number of practices and policies in place that aim to mitigate the gender disparities. Nevertheless, the leading positions in research and innovation remain significantly male-dominated.

Research on and public promotion of research-based innovation has mainly been on male-dominated areas of technology and engineering and centred on product development. The role of humanities and social sciences in innovation has been far less acknowledged and promoted, disadvantaging women who primarily are active as researchers in these fields. In order to induce sustainable growth, these academic fields are just as important in terms of social, organizational and service-based solutions e.g., in public and private services, creative and cultural industries and tourism.

There remains a significant gap between awareness of the problem and knowledge about how to solve it. New and critical research approaches and innovative solutions are called for to bridge the gap between recognising the problem and solving it. Innovative, co-creative and interactive approaches are needed to meet the ambitions of this programme. It requires cooperation in the research and innovation systems to reach sustainable impact. The programme particularly welcomes research applications that focuses on the challenge of how to get from words to action.

The research funded through this programme should consider the existing knowledge and develop new research and innovative blueprints for organisational, economic and cultural solutions in research and innovation. The programme solicits comparative and contrasting analyses between the Nordic countries, between disciplines, and between research and innovation, which result in new and critical knowledge.

The research funded through this initiative will be interdisciplinary and deploy qualitative or quantitative methods in addressing issues such as:

  • Hierarchies, structural power relations and innovation cultures

  • National policies and institutional structures

  • Preconceptions, language and norms in research and innovation

  • Implicit gender bias

  • Leadership and management

  • Research careers, work-life balance and the Nordic welfare system

  • Differences between the public and private sectors

  • Career progression, international mobility and competition

Financial framework

The call for proposals is funded through a common pot provided by the funding partners of the programme, which currently are: NordForsk, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare - FORTE, the Research Council of Norway, the Academy of Finland and The Icelandic Centre for Research - RANNÍS. The call is administered by NordForsk.

NCoE status and funding will be granted for a period of five years.

One or two NCoEs will be funded.

Funding will be granted for Nordic research collaboration as specified in the proposal. The funding can be used to fund researchers and research groups at academic institutions and research institutes in the Nordic countries. The funding can also be used for visits to the Nordic node(s) by non-Nordic researchers and for visits to non-Nordic research environments by Nordic researchers. To fulfil its goals, an NCoE should also include participation of non-Nordic nodes funded by other sources (direct funds or in kind) and specified in the proposed budget.

What is a Nordic Centre of Excellence (NCoE)?

NCoEs are established to strengthen cooperation between outstanding researchers, research groups and research institutions within areas of priority for the Nordic countries. NCoEs add value to research performed in the countries and increase the international impact of Nordic research. An NCoE is a multi-site or single-site research environment with a common research agenda, joint management and budget, and joint communication and outreach activities.

NCoEs facilitate more efficient use of resources by gathering people, funding and infrastructure into collaborative entities, thus enabling better coordination of research efforts. They promote international researcher mobility, true interdisciplinary research, and joint use and establishment of research infrastructure. NCoEs employ an international strategy and provide joint access to the best research environments in the Nordic region, thereby helping to increase the attractiveness of the region and strengthen the linkages to and impacts on relevant European research initiatives. Through coordination of researcher education, a centre builds competence and long-lasting networks of younger researchers and enhances their career opportunities. The applicants are strongly encouraged to read the NCoE concept document thoroughly, see Annex 1.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for funding, the following conditions must be met:

  • The leader of the NCoE must be an established senior researcher based at a research institution in one of the Nordic countries funding the programme (Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden). A researcher can only be a project leader in one application.

  • The NCoE consortium must involve researchers or research groups from institutions based or headquartered in at least three Nordic countries. Letters of intent, expressing a binding institutional commitment from their institutions, are required for all NCoE partners

  • Proposals must include a plan for contributing to open science in accordance with Science Europe Principles on Open Access to Research Publications.

  • Proposals must include a description of the relevant legal and ethical frameworks and procedures needed to perform the research.

Assessment criteria

The proposal for NCoEs will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • Quality (excellence) of the planned research; relevance to the call, innovativeness and novelty of research, and transdisciplinary focus (bearing in mind that ideas and innovative solutions should include user perspectives).

  • Competence of the applicants, including scientific merits and output, academic leadership, experience and skills related to project management and operation.

  • Expected results and impact of the planned NCoE, including long-term scientific, economic and societal impact of the cooperation.

  • Feasibility and rigour of the project plan in relation to proposed resources (human resources, budget and schedule).

  • Added value of the Nordic cooperation, including justification as to why the NCoE should be carried out as a joint Nordic effort.

  • International cooperation; applications should demonstrate how the proposed NCoE will facilitate and develop cooperation with non-Nordic research groups.

  • Involvement of users of research results (universities, research organisations, policy- and decision-makers etc.) who are central to achieving the envisioned goal.

  • Pronounced gender perspectives on the research topics.

  • Contribution to open science/open access to research data.

  • Gender balance among researchers in the application or an acceptable justification for gender imbalance.

The scientific evaluation of the research plan is the most important assessment criteria. Note that the assessment of the research plan includes an assessment of the feasibility of the proposed budget describing the total costs and overall funding contributions to the NCoE, including the own contribution and the impact of the funding requested from NordForsk.

Processing of proposals

Proposals must be submitted electronically through NordForsk Application Portal no later than 27 April 2016 at 14.00 CEST. Proposals must be submitted in English. No attachments are allowed, unless specifically requested in the application form. The application form is based on the eligibility criteria and assessment criteria stated above, and can be found in its complete form at NordForsk Application Portal. In order to access the application form you must register as a user at NordForsk Application Portal and create an application draft.

The final funding decision will be taken by the NordForsk Board, based on assessments by international independent experts (peer review) and the subsequent recommendation of the Programme Committee.

NordForsk's Guidelines on Impartiality will be applied to avoid conflicts of interest in the prioritisation and funding decisions.

Written feedback from the assessment will be provided to the applicants via NordForsk. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of the funding decision, and NordForsk will initiate contract negotiations with the approved NCoEs and their host organisations shortly thereafter. The NCoEs are expected to launch their activities late in 2016.

Management and organisation

NordForsk will sign a contract with the hosting institution for the NCoE in which the exact funding rates and details are stated. The grant will be transferred to this institution and a consortium agreement regulates the relations between the institutions involved in the centre. NordForsk administers the funding, and will manage and further develop the programme in collaboration with the Programme Committee.

The Project Leader will be responsible for and support the implementation of human resource strategies for researchers in line with the basic principles of the EU Charter for Researchers and the EU Code for the Recruitment of Researchers. In order to support cross-border mobility, any new positions within the Nordic Centre of Excellence must be announced internationally in open competition and according to transparent and merit-based recruitment procedures, in line with the basic principles of the EU Charter for Researchers and the EU Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. Vacancies for first-stage, recognised, established and leading researchers are as far as possible to be advertised on the EURAXESS Jobs portal.

In order to facilitate the best scientific progress, the NCoE should receive regular and structured scientific advice from internationally renowned non-Nordic scientists in its field of research. NordForsk will therefore appoint a Scientific Advisory Board for the NCoEs.

Performance of the NCoE will be monitored through annual progress reports comprising a scientific progress report and a financial report. After three years of operation, a midterm evaluation will be performed, and a more comprehensive progress report will be assessed, before granting the NCoE the last two years of funding. A final evaluation of the results and impact of the programme will be conducted after the end of the funding period.

Max applied amount (NOK)
Responsible adviser

Senior adviser Lotta Strandberg, PhD
Phone: +47 928 36 522

Responsible adviser

Head of Arctic Affairs Marianne Røgeberg
Phone: +47 905 37 041

Technical support

E-mail: / Phone:+47 905 51 520

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