The brain is made up of about 100 billion neurons. These neurons come in a plethora of shapes and forms, and carry out a large variety of different functions. In order for the brain to work the neurons need to communicate with each other. To do so, the neurons are connected to each other through about 164 trillion contact point or synapses.
There are not merely as many neuroscientists in the world as there are neurons in the brain. But neuroscientists also come in many shapes and forms and carry out a variety of different functions. If all neuroscientists worked as separate entities, we would not see much progress. Just like neurons, neuroscientists need to communicate and collaborate with each other in order for great science to be conducted. Here, Nansen Neuroscience Network comes into the picture. We facilitate communication and collaborations between neuroscientists in academia as well as in the industry to promote great neuroscience. In some way you can say we are like the glial cell of a tripartite synapse.
Nansen Neuroscience Network is an innovation network that focuses on neuroscience. This field includes research and development on the brain and the central nervous system, including disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, psychiatric disorders and a number of other conditions. Our members are research institutions, start-up companies, established industry and technology transfer offices. Our goal is for research and development to result in products which patients, their relatives and the society can benefit from, and for neuroscience research and development to contribute to establish a viable health industry in Norway.
Nansen Neuroscience Network was established in 2010 as an independent organization on the initiative from some of the most prominent neuroscientists at the University of Oslo and NTNU, and is now one of the networks within Innovation Norway’s health initiatives. We have taken our name from Fridtjof Nansen, who was one of the pioneers in Norwegian neuroscience. Read more about Fridtjof Nansen and neuroscience here.
Our work is centred on three axes:
Much of our work is centred on creating arenas that can trigger synergies between basic and clinical researchers, and where academia and industry can meet and work together without creating doubts about the integrity of any of the parts. For this purpose, we regularly organize meetings with both academic and industrial focus, and where there is always time for networking.
We also work to highlight the great research and development that is being conducted within neuroscience, so as to build knowledge and awareness about the field and make it attractive for both private and public investments. We study different research areas in detail and analyze its innovation potential, such as we did in 2013 with the report “Næring for hjernen” about Norwegian research and development on dementia. We have close contact with the media and inform them about exciting news from our members, as well as neuroscience news from around the world. We also highlight news from our members through our newsletter, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
NNN also work as a liaison between national and international research, industry, investors, funding agencies and governments to promote collaborations and remove bottlenecks on the road towards the players’ common goal. We influence policy makers within health and innovation, by actively taking part in e.g. the national strategy process HelseOmsorg21, being a part of the BioVerdi committee, and by fronting “Helsemyggordningen” together with the other health clusters.
Funding is a critical part of research and developments. There is a myriad of funding schemes and it is often difficult to navigate through this jungle. We therefore regularly organize information meetings about funding opportunities such as Horizon 2020, EU Joint Program – Neurodegenerative Diseases (JPND), and the funding opportunities from the Norwegian Research Council, and we help establish consortia.