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Research on nutrition awarded 15 million

Researchers at the University of Agder will create measures to promote a healthy diet early in life. In total, UiA received NOK 30 million in funding from the Research Council in December.

Illustration photo of eating child
The research centre Lifecourse Nutrition received 15.9 million to create measures to promote a healthy diet early in life (Photo: Unsplash)

The University of Agder (UiA) has received approval for three applications in this year’s largest and most important funding allocation from the Research Council.

Professor Nina Øverby fra Fakultet for helse- og idrettsvitenskap.

Nina Øverby from the Faculty of Health and Sports Sciences

Professor Nina Øverby from the Faculty of Health and Sports Sciences receives the largest allocation of NOK 15.9 million from the Research Council’s ‘Collaborative and Knowledge-building Project’. The project is about early nutrition.

Øverby leads the research centre Lifecourse Nutrition. She describes the award as a milestone for the centre and looks forward to putting the research into practice. Or ‘conduct implementation research’, as the researchers call it.

“We will create tools for pregnant women, parents, nursery school staff and public health nurses to promote good nutrition early in life. We know that early intervention is important, and that what we eat is fundamental to development and growth and health”, says Øverby.

The research group has previously developed several e-learning initiatives targeting these groups. The projects have been analysed and assessed, and they have been shown to have a good effect under controlled conditions.

Measures of this kind are often discontinued when controlled research experiments end, but this project will continue with the measures. It will put the research into practice, implement it.

Førsteamanuensis Sara Hofmann fra Fakultet for samfunnsfag.

Associate Professor Sara Hofmann from the Faculty of Social Sciences

“We implement the measures through the health stations and nursery schools in the municipalities where people live. We will also find out if the measures produce better results if we implement them together”, says Øverby.

Recognition for priority research centre

The research project led by Professor Øverby is already underway in Arendal municipality. It will run until 2025. A total of 19 researchers from UiA, the University of Oslo, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, and from Australia and several European countries will participate.

“The award is very important for the priority research centre’s research. To me the award is a recognition of the research we have conducted over several years”, says Professor Nina Øverby.

The research centre has interdisciplinary expertise in subject areas such as nutrition, public health, implementation research, health economics, political science and anthropology.

Success for social science

The Research Council approved two applications from research groups at the Faculty of Social Sciences under the Research Project for Renewal umbrella.

Førsteamanuensis Anne Pintsch fra Fakultet for samfunnsfag.

Associate Professor Anne Pintsch from the Faculty of Social Sciences

Associate Professor Sara Hofmann at the Faculty of Social Sciences gets almost NOK 9 million for research into the digitisation of public services, while Associate Professor Anne Pintsch gets almost NOK 5.5 million for a project on the EU.

“It was a good day for the Faculty of Social Sciences when two of our projects received funding from the Research Council’s major call for proposals”, says Anne Halvorsen who is dean of the faculty.

“This is an extension of our faculty’s EU research and our EU-awarded Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence”, says Associate Professor Anne Pintsch, who will lead the research on negotiations between Ukraine and the EU.

“We will collaborate with researchers from Ukraine. I have done research and the Ukraine and the EU before, and with this we can strengthen our research on Eastern Europe”, says Pintsch.

Long-term efforts

“We are pleased to see that our social scientists have succeeded and that the health and sports community had a big project approved. The Faculty of Social Sciences has worked systematically to improve application writing, and Lifecourse Nutrition is one of our priority research centres”, says Hans Kjetil Lysgård, Vice Rector for Research and Interdisciplinary Projects.

He points out that food and nutrition researchers have carried out major research projects over the years.

Hans Kjetil Lysgård er viserektor for forskning og tverrfaglige satsinger.

Hans Kjetil Lysgård is Vice Rector for Research and Interdisciplinary Projects

“The researchers there have succeeded in building a professional environment that keeps receiving project approvals. And at the Faculty of Social Sciences, they have worked for a long time to structure and improve their research applications to the Research Council and the EU”, says Lysgård.

UiA submitted a total of 42 applications and 3 of them received approval. The vice rector would have wanted more successful applications but chooses to see things in a long-term perspective.

“The projects that received funding inspire us to continue our efforts. Now we plan to analyse the successful applications to see if we can learn from them. We must constantly strive to provide relevant and good support to our researchers who apply for research funding. And we must ensure the applications have the quality we want”, he says.

The upcoming application deadlines for the Research Council’s largest grants are 10 February for the Researcher Project for Scientific Renewal and 17 February for the Collaborative and Knowledge-building Project.

Facts

The Research Council’s Collaborative and Knowledge-building Project had an application deadline of 2 September 2020, and the Research Council had NOK 1.6 billion to distribute.

UiA submitted seven applications and one was approved: Professor Nina Øverby at the Faculty of Health and Sports Sciences receives NOK 15.8 million in funding for a research project on early nutrition (Scaling up evidence based early-life nutrition interventions for community resilience and lifecourse health (Nutrition Now)).

The application deadline for the Research Council’s Researcher Project for Scientific Renewal was 25 May 2020, and the Research Council had NOK 2.65 billion to distribute. UiA sent 35 applications and two were approved, both at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Associate Professor Sara Hofmann receives NOK 8.928 million in funding for a project on digitisation of public services (What public services should be digitised? A citizen-centred analysis of what public services are suitable for digital channels).

Associate Professor Anne Pintsch receives NOK 5.438 million in funding for a project to map and explain negotiation strategies around the Association Agreement (2014) between Ukraine and the EU (Lowering the bar? Compliance Negotiation and the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement).