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Call: Nordic Register-based Research Projects

The submission deadline for this call has passed
Application deadline
05.10.2016 13:00

NordForsk is now announcing the fourth call under the Nordic Programme on Health and Welfare.

The Nordic Programme on Health and Welfare is a collaborative effort between Denmark (the Danish Council for Independent Research | Medical Sciences), Finland (The Academy of Finland), Iceland (The Icelandic Centre for Research Rannís), Norway (The Research Council of Norway), Sweden (The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare Forte and The Swedish Research Council) and NordForsk.

The overall goal of the Nordic Programme on Health and Welfare (hereafter referred to as the Programme) is to improve health in the Nordic countries by finding solutions to societal and public health challenges through high-quality research.

The Nordic welfare societies are facing challenges related to uneven distribution of health and an increasing burden of chronic illness. The Nordic welfare systems provide an arena for deeper enquiry into the role of these systems for health outcomes in a life-span perspective. Together, the Nordic countries have a population base of around 26 million, which can provide a solid foundation for numerous types of research of high international scientific value.

The Nordic countries possess a unique source of knowledge in their population-based register and biobank data. The research infrastructures that result from the alignment of socio-economic and health registers across the Nordic countries can be utilised to apply a multidisciplinary approach to research activities targeting grand societal challenges. Studies using a comparative approach in and between the different Nordic countries are expected to contribute to a deeper understanding of mechanisms underlying different trajectories of health and social conditions throughout the life span.

Who is eligible to apply?
Researchers and research groups at universities and other research institutions in the Nordic countries are eligible to apply for funding. The Nordic countries are defined here as Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Aaland Islands, Faroe Islands and Greenland. The formal applicant must be an institution, organisation or other legal entity based in one of the Nordic countries.
Thematic framework

The call is targeted towards Nordic register-based research, i.e. research utilising the unique Nordic research infrastructures comprised of population-based registers and healthcare data. The research should address societal challenges and use register data from combined data sources (i.e. both socio-economic and health-related data). User involvement and perspectives should be taken into account.

The research awarded funding under this call should utilise Nordic register data to answer novel research questions that address grand societal challenges relating to health and welfare, thereby providing a foundation for future policy incentives and interventions. The aim of this call is to support projects utilising data from existing Nordic research infrastructures in the health and welfare sphere, including population-based registers constructed for statistics production at national agencies and healthcare register data (quality registers, medical records and biobank data).

Another aim of this call is to monitor existing hurdles and bottlenecks (technical, organisational, legal, ethical, etc.) that impede Nordic collaborative research utilising register data, in keeping with NordForsk's objective to strengthen Nordic register-based research. It is expected that projects awarded funding consider cooperation with existing Nordic infrastructure initiatives, such as Tryggve, if these meet their anticipated needs for cross-border IT services.

The issues of interest under this call represent a broad range of scientific questions. The funded research projects should study social conditions and exposures in relation to health outcomes and quality of life that are posing a challenge to the Nordic welfare societies and their sustainability. The Programme Committee specifically invites research proposals addressing:

  1. Health challenges related to working life (including sickness absence, disability pensions and retirement conditions).
  2. Prevention, quality of life and underlying causes of illness and health conditions in children and young people. Consideration should be given to the children's families and social environment, including school.
  3. Research on conditions on which the individual countries do not have sufficient data, including rare diseases.
  4. Research supporting personalised medicine.
  5. Research applying a life-course perspective.
Financial framework
This call for proposals is funded and administered by NordForsk. The total budget for this call is maximum NOK 67 million, and the maximum funding amount that may be sought is NOK 10 million. Funding will be granted for a period of three to five years. Funding may be used for:
  • Data collection and analysis;
  • Research positions;
  • Administrative expenses related to project management;
  • Travel and mobility;
  • Meeting costs;
  • Communication and dissemination activities.
Eligibility criteria
To be eligible for funding, the following conditions must be met:
  • The Project Leader must be an established senior researcher based at a research institution in one of the Nordic countries. NordForsk will enter into a contract with this institution, which will be responsible for the administration of the research project. This is also the legal entity to which NordForsk will disburse the grant.
  • The project consortium must involve partner institutions from at least three Nordic countries. Partner institutions from non-Nordic countries must fund their own participation.
  • The proposed research projects must be based on register data from minimum three Nordic countries.
  • The research must combine health data and socio-economic data.
  • Proposals must be submitted in English.
In addition, the application must include:
  • A binding institutional commitment (Letter of Intent) from at least three Nordic countries.
  • An overall budget detailing the anticipated costs of the research project and a specification of how these costs will be distributed among all funding sources, including funding sought from the Programme.
  • Documentation of the contribution from all project partners (cash and in-kind) to the project.
  • A description of the relevant legal and ethical frameworks and procedures needed to perform the research.
  • A plan for dissemination and implementation of the project results, including, if relevant, plans for market orientation.
  • A description of how gender perspectives will be incorporated into the research and the organisation of the project; please consult the NordForsk Gender Policy.
  • A plan for open access to publications and data in accordance with Science Europe's Principles on Open Access to Research Publications.
  • A data management plan and a plan for open access to data.
Assessment criteria
An international expert panel will assess the proposals on the basis of the following criteria:
  • Quality of the grant proposal, including the scientific potential and quality of the project plan, and potential to facilitate novel approaches to utilisation of Nordic registers;
  • Relevance relative to the call for proposals;
  • Competence of the project leader and project group, including scientific merits and output, academic leadership, and experience and skills related to the project;
  • Research environment including profile, cohesion, possibility for specialisation;
  • Expected results and impact, including long-term scientific as well as societal impact of the cooperation;
  • Feasibility and rigour of the project plan in relation to proposed resources (human resources, budget, schedule);
  • Feasibility of the proposed budget describing the total costs of and overall funding contributions to the research project, including the impact of the funding sought from the Nordic Programme on Health and Welfare;
  • Gender perspective of research and gender aspects of the organisation;
  • Contribution to open science: plans as described in Annex 1, merits in the area of open science.
The Programme Committee will assess the proposals on the basis of the following criteria:
  • Added value of the Nordic cooperation, including justification as to why the project should be carried out as a joint Nordic effort and how the results will benefit the Nordic countries;
  • The overall goal of the Nordic Programme on Health and Welfare.
Processing of proposals

The application must be submitted in electronic format via the NordForsk Call and Application Portal no later than 5 October 2016 at 13:00 CEST. No attachments are to be included unless specifically requested in the application form. In order to access the application form, applicants must register as a user on the NordForsk Application Portal and create a draft application.

Based on the assessments of the expert panel, the Programme Committee will forward a recommendation of projects to be awarded funding to the NordForsk Board, which will take the final funding decision. This is expected to take place in March 2017.

NordForsk's guidelines on impartiality will be applied to handle possible conflicts of interest. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of the funding decision and receive written feedback from the Programme Committee, and then NordForsk will sign contracts with the approved research projects and their host organisations shortly thereafter. Preliminary start-up of projects awarded funding will take place during mid-2017.

Management and organisation

NordForsk will sign a contract with the host institution for the project, and this contract will set out the specific funding rates and details. The grant will be disbursed to this institution and a consortium agreement regulating the rights and obligations of the various institutions involved in the project must be drawn up. NordForsk will not transfer any funds before the consortium agreement has been signed. Implementation of the project will be monitored through annual progress reports comprising a scientific progress report and a financial report. A final report must be submitted to NordForsk at the end of the funding period. A final evaluation of the results and impact of the Nordic Programme on Health and Welfare will be conducted at the end of the funding period.

The Project Leader will be responsible for the implementation of human resource strategies for researchers in keeping with the basic principles of the EU Charter for Researchers and the EU Code for the Recruitment of Researchers.

Max applied amount (NOK)
Responsible adviser

Maria Nilsson, Senior Adviser
Phone: +47 993 80 264

Responsible adviser

Marianne Aastebøl Minge, Senior Adviser
Phone: +47 936 02 527

Technical support

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

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