When the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2008 outsourced the practical management of the Danida support to research and research capacity building to Danida Fellowship Centre Bente Ilsøe arrived to the centre in the heart of Frederiksberg with 19 moving boxes with files, and 138 ongoing research projects. Bente became the very first Research Programme Manager at Danida Fellowship Centre. Today we have a team of five.
An effective example
Before joining Danida, Bente worked as a veterinarian in Denmark and for FAO, later as researcher and lecturer in parasitology and microbiology at the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University. She spent 15 years as Project Coordinator for Research at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she managed the ENRECA projects (Danida’s bilateral programme for the Enhancement of Research Capacity), almost from the start of that programme, and she assisted the researchers in creating the very appreciated partnerships between researchers from Denmark and developing countries, which focused on promoting mutual learning through collaborative research and research capacity enhancement. An evaluation called the programme “an imaginative and effective example of how a relatively small amount of money may be used to build public sector research capacity in developing countries. ENRECA has shown itself to be efficient in using its financial and other resources to mobilise the enthusiasm of researchers from both North and South, thus creating synergistic relationships.”
Initiated the new retrospective study
Bente is very happy to have initiated the new retrospective study “Opportunities, challenges – and bad weather” commissioned by Danida Fellowship Centre. The study that is authored by Hanne Kirstine Adriansen, University of Copenhagen and Lene Møller Madsen, University of Aarhus, shares the voices and reflections of African researchers involved in Danida supported research capacity projects over the past three decades.
Research collaboration matters and continues
Through her contacts with the projects and our database, Bente traced 500 former PhD students and researchers from Africa who had been on study stays in Denmark. The report will be out on 27 June 2019. It shows that the African researchers find that their stays in Denmark have had a positive impact on their personal development and empowerment. Their cooperation with their Danish partners continues long after the end of the projects and goes way beyond purely research collaboration. The researchers who have been educated through the partnership projects benefit their countries; almost all of the researchers are active in local development and only 1% of the respondents are unemployed, and many hold important positions in society.
After a full time career of 41 years, Bente looks forward on spending more time with her family, (especially her granddaughter of 2½ years), to enjoy their beach house, to work as an environmental activist, and to have more time to use her creative skills. Pensioners are expected to have plans for travelling for leisure, but Bente says that she has travelled enough, and seen enough hotel rooms, and that private travels will probably not match the experiences from her professional travel, where she has enjoyed meeting the researchers, who have showed her their countries in such an excellent way. She appreciates very much and is proud having worked with so many gifted people, who endlessly are working to make a difference for their countries and for the world.
Bente does not want official farewell reception to be held for her, but she hopes that as many as possible of the researchers and other people whom she has worked with during her 26 years in development research management, will participate on 27 June when Danida Fellowship Centre celebrates the long-term research global partnerships with the launch of the retrospective study and the Danida Alumni Prize 2019.