In 2006, the Norwegian government gave the University of Minnesota (UM) a $750,000 grant to help create an endowed chair (NOCC) in the fields of bioenergy, genomics and food safety. The Norwegian gift was matched by UM, and a $1,500,000 fund was established to be administered by the UM Foundation. The revenue from the fund may be used for any purpose which supports the research, teaching and service activity of the chair. The purpose of the initial bilateral cooperation was to form transatlantic research teams at UM and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB, now NMBU). Transatlantic research teams were formed from existing research interactions between the two universities prior to the NOCC, and new teams were formed as the result of the NOCC activities.
The program has since evolved from a cooperative research agreement between UM and NMBU to become a strategic tri-partite collaboration which includes the University of Oslo (UiO). In 2010, UiO entered into the tri-partite agreement with a special focus on the areas of environmental change/sustainable energy and molecular life science - areas of cooperative research conducted with UM in a pre-existing bilateral agreement. Under the tri-partite agreement, UiO contributes $250,000 to the Chair's graduate fellowship fund and $125,000 annually over four years toward the collaboration.
The NOCC program has facilitated dozens of transatlantic exchanges between undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs and faculty through short- and longer term travel awards and fellowships. This program has led to the establishment of new collaborative research programs between groups at UM with groups from NMBU and/or UiO. Six research teams with faculty from four colleges (CBS, CSE, CFANS and Med. School) are working together on joint research projects with Norwegian faculty with seed funding provided by NOCC.