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NOS-N was established by Statens Naturvidenskabelige Forskningsråd in Denmark, Naturvetenskapliga forskningsrådet in Sweden, the former Valtion luonnontieteellinen toimikunta in Finland, and Rådet for Naturvitenskapelig Forskning in Norway in 1967. Iceland became a member of NOS-N in 1987.

From 2006, NOS-N has been represented by the Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. NordForsk became a member in 2011.

The objective of NOS-N is to promote natural science research and research based on the natural sciences in the Nordic countries by cooperation and coordination on the basis of continuous and mutual exchange of information.