How to accomplish a successful international academic collaboration is the topic of this publication. Norway and Russia are neighboring countries with completely different cultural, political and scientific traditions. To bridge these gaps was one of the major challenges behind the scientific collaboration which was established by the University of Oslo in 1993, a period of difficult political and economic change in Russia. By supporting scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences and from leading Russian medical universities one created a unique network between the medical and molecular- and gene-biological communities of Scandinavia and Russia. The organizational structure and the dedicated personnel of both sides made it possible to avoid all negative connotations tied to the initial development aid perspective, and secured a full-scale, reciprocal partnership based on mutual respect. Modern management theory was applied to describe what challenges the involved institutions had when establishing and later securing the long-term existence of the collaboration.