The Nansen LEGACY project was initiated as a SAK initiative (Norwegian acronyme for cooperation, task division and concentration) in 2012. The motivation was to optimize use of governmental resources, e.g competence and infrastructure. Eight governmental research institutions with competence in Arctic marine sciences suggested a dedicated collaborative approach to close knowledge gaps in the rapid changing Barents Sea beyond the present ice edge. Recently two more partners are included.

A Nansen LEGACY project plan was developed in 2014 (can be downloaded here).

The present task is to develop this initiative into a realized project. A LEGACY proposal was developed in 2015, and evaluated by an international review panel from the US National Academy of Sciences in January 2016, with excellent results. This opened for the phase of developing an implementation plan and a revised proposal to the Research Council of Norway (RCN) in June 2017 to secure the external funding. As part of the SAK approach, the participating institutions contribute 50% of the costs from internal budgets to ensure an optimized use of governmental resources. A  pre-project was funded with 10 mill NOK in 2017. In September 2017 the government announced that their share of the funding is secured. The RCN will make their final decision in December 2017.

The partners include four universities, one university center, three management institutions and two private research institutes;

University of Tromsø the Arctic University of Norway (UiT), University of Bergen (UiB), University of Oslo (UiO), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI), Institute of Marine Research (IMR), The Norwegian Meteorological institute (MET), Akvaplan-Niva (APN) and Nansen Centre for Environmental Research (NERSC).