NORA started the work of establishing a research school for AI as early as 2020. A PhD symposium was held in February 2020 and NORA’s Education Council also discussed and planned the establishment of a research school. In 2021, the Research Council of Norway announced a call for “Research School for Quality and Relevance“. NORA applied and the application was successful. As one of twelve successful applicants, NORA receives funding for the research school from 2022. The research school will cover basic and applied AI, machine learning and robotics, and it will be of relevance to the industry and public sector.
The primary objective of the research school is to raise the quality of the PhD education in AI to a leading European level, with a high degree of relevance for the labour market.
The secondary objectives are:
1. Enhancing and filling gaps in the PhD education by commissioning new PhD courses and upgrading existing courses for wider participation.
2. Creating added value for the Norwegian AI community by connecting the research school to the NORA research and innovation ecosystems.
3. Bringing the stakeholders (industry, public sector, and others) together through industry days, workshops, internships, startup activities and innovation projects.
4. Empowering students by giving them responsibilities to organise technical tutorials and include them in the programme agenda of top-quality scientific events.
5. Facilitating student access to national high-performance computing infrastructure.
6. Enhancing international collaboration and increase the attractiveness of Norway as a destination for AI talent.
The organisation of the research school will include a research school board and several councils. NORA has chosen a radical approach towards gender equality in the research school. The research school board and all advisory councils are led by women. The board chair will be Cathrine Phil Lyngstad, director of Data and AI at NAV. Marija Slavkovic (UiB) will lead NORA’s Education Council, Mari Serine Kannelønning (OsloMet) will lead the PhD Student Council and Signe Riemer Sørensen (SINTEF) will lead the Innovation Council. Of the nine persons on the board, six are women (67%).
The research school ́s project manager is Arnoldo Frigessi (UiO), and NORA ́s CEO Klas Pettersen is the project administrator supported by the NORA secretariat. The funding is NOK 2 million per year, starting in 2022 for a maximum eightyear period. NORA partners will further contribute more than NOK 1 million annually.
The research school board will consist of NORA partners, Norwegian industry and the public sector. The board chair will be Cathrine Pihl Lyngstad, who heads Data Science and AI at NAV. Other board members are Robert Jensen (UiT), also head of SFI Visual Intelligence; Marija Slavkovik (UiB), a driving force of AI education at UiB, who was also the driving force behind the NORA pilot PhDlevel ethics course which is now conducted in collaboration between UiB and UiO; Liv Dingsør, CEO of Digital Norway, one of the key industryfocused AI bodies in Norway, contributes with her strong industry insights and perspectives;
Kjersti Engan (UiS) and Nils-Olav Skeie (USN) bring strong experience from AI research and education; Hans Ekkehard Plesser (NMBU) has been the past board chair of the RCN-supported Norwegian Research School in Neuroscience and hence has solid experience in running and managing a research school; Signe Riemer-Sørensen (SINTEF) will enable important industry links with her experience and connections to a large number of industry-facing projects within AI;
and Mari Serine Kannelønning (OsloMet), who will be a PhD student representative on the board. Riemer-Sørensen, Slavkovik and Kannelønning will lead the Education, Innovation and PhD Student Council, respectively.
The Education Council expands on an existing framework within NORA. The council gives advice on education and has been pivotal in the RCN application for NORA to become an RCN-supported research school. The education commit tee will act as the scientific resource pool for advising the topics of new PhD courses to be initiated, provide technical input for the scientific programmes
and evaluate student applications that may be solicited for the activities of the research school described above, such as a student exchange with our international collaborators.
The Innovation Council will be a new council at NORA. It will serve as a council for industry and public administrations. NORA’s research institutes SINTEF, NORCE, Simula and Vestlandsforskning together with the SFIs, SFI Visual Intelligence, SFI Big Insight, and SFI Media Futures will be essential in bridging the NORA partners with industry. Several industry clusters will be represented on the council, among them Norway’s three industry clusters for AI. Selected companies and public organisations will also have representatives.
The PhD Student Council is a council newly formed by NORA, comprising 24 PhD students spread across 9 NORA partners. Read more about the council in Chapter 6.2. The International Advisory Council will connect NORA to prominent international European AI networks and provide valuable input and insight based on their experience with their respective research schools and doctoral programmes. Members of the International Advisory Council will include representatives from WASP (Sweden), HIDA (Germany), the Alan Turing Institute (UK), FCAI (Finland), AI Pioneer Centre (Denmark) and CLAIRE (Europe).