Iver B. Neumann
2020 is probably the longest year in living memory for most of us, but FNI has pulled through. The main reason is of course the Institute’s highly qualified and positive researchers and staff, but it also helped that we began our year by landing a record high number of projects in the annual Research Council Norway (RCN) sweeps. The largest one, INCLUDE, focussed on renewables, so we also synched the spirit of the times pretty well. RCN projects make up the dominant share of our portfolio, as it has for decades. That was a particularly good thing this year, with the number of occasional projects talking a hit due to tighter budgetary Covid-19 frames for many of our other partners.
It is hardly unrelated to our success in the long-term projects market that 2020 also proved to be a record year for publishing. FNI has been on top of the publishing table in Norwegian academia for three of the last four years, and we intend to keep it that way.
FNI has made a point of following the frequent (and often quite convoluted) Covid-19 advice that has emanated from sundry state organs, and yet, we have still to see a day when we have been absolutely closed. Our researchers have stuck to their working from home, only to pop in and out for small meetings and sundry chores, like picking up books. We are many who miss the little chats about the place that are so important for an organisation like ours to go around. It’s an ill wind, however, so the upside is that we are now better at digitalisation than we have ever been. Still, we miss meeting foreign colleagues and members of the public face to face. Needless to say, conference attendance has plummeted.
With fewer people about the place, we have grasped the opportunity to do some decorating. The smallest of our rooms have been given a full make-over. We have had some painting done, we have gotten rid of some anachronistic eye-sores in favour of older and more appropriate stuff (the old-new door handles are particularly pleasing), and we have spruced up our little basement museum. Eva Nansen, who was a leading Norwegian singer and skiing pioneer, and who ran the household as well as a salon during the mansion’s first years (1901-1907), has finally been acknowledged and memorised in photographs.
We are pleased to welcome Ann Therese Lotherington as the new chair of FNIs board, and are greatful for all the good work done by her predecessor Øyvind Østerud.
The year ended as it started, with a nice sweep at RCN projects. Not a record this time, but a good, average year. We are confident that our travails will come to a halt half-way through 2021, and our New year wish for all our associates is that the same will happen to them. Season's Greetings and a Happy New Year from all of us, to all of you!