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In March 2015, the Norwegian government decided to draw up a bioeconomy strategy for Norway. The ministries of agriculture and food, trade and industry and of fisheries are responsible for the preparation of the strategy.
In 2011, the Norwegian Government launched the “National Strategy for Biotechnology 2011 – 2020: For the future of value creation, health and the environment”. This national biotechnology strategy identifies four thematic focus areas in which biotechnology can play a role in addressing social challenges and where Norway has national competitive advantages:
- aquaculture, seafood, and management of the marine environment
- land-based food and biomass production
- environment-friendly industrial processes and products
- health, health services and health-related industries
Six ministries in cooperation with the Research Council of Norway and Innovation Norway drew up the strategy.
Earlier, in 2009, the Norwegian government launched its strategy for “Marine bioprospecting – a source of new and sustainable wealth growth”. The government’s goal was and still is to ensure that marine bioprospecting contributes to new and sustainable wealth creation. This has led to an increase and more focus on research and commercialisation activities relating to marine bioprospecting, where international collaboration is a priority. The bioprospecting strategy is part of the government’s innovation policy for an innovative and sustainable Norway, and strategy for the marine sector, “Sustainable seafood – alpha and omega”.
Who is there?
Biotech companies can be found within healthcare, food, agri and marine biotech, environment and bioprocessing fields. At present, there are approximately 100 biotechnology companies in Norway, mainly SME’s and small innovative start-ups. Approximately 50 % of these can be related to industrial biotechnology.
As the world’s second largest seafood-exporting nation, Norway is producing biomarine-based byproducts from seafood. To reduce the dependence on soy from Brazil in fish feed, biomass from other sources is subject to investigation in several industry-driven research projects.
Academia and Research Institutes
- NMBU – Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Department of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science
- NTNU – Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology
- UiT – The Arctic University of Norway; Department of Chemistry and Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economics
- UiB – University of Bergen, Department of Biology
- UiO – University of Oslo, Department of Biosciences
- SINTEF – multidisciplinary research institute in technology, medicine and the social sciences: Fisheries & Aquaculture and Materials & Chemistry
- Nofima – institute for applied research within the fields of fisheries, aquaculture and food research
- IRIS – International Research Institute of Stavanger
- PFI – Paper and Fibre Institute
- NIBIO – Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomic Research; interdisciplinary research institute in the agricultural and environmental sphere (from July 2015)
- stfoldforskning – Sustainable Innovation
- NIFU – The Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education
Other relevant associations and networks
- BioTech North – marine biotechnology and life sciences cluster
- Heidner – green-blue biotechnology cluster
- LegaSea – marine ingredients and marine industry cluster
Examples to watch
Borregaard AS is one of the largest industrial biotechnology/biobased industry companies in Norway. Borregaard claims to have one of the world’s most advanced biorefineries. They operate a demo unit based on their in-house developed Borregaard Advanced Lignin technology – BALITM .
- Barents Biocentre Lab – Access to modern laboratories with advanced equipment for biotechnology companies, research communities and educational institutions
- NAMAB – Nofima National Facility for Marine Bioprocessing; mini-factory for processing of marine and plant-based biomass
- SINTEF pilot facilities – at Sintef Fisheries & Aquaculture and at Sintef Materials & Chemistry
- IRIS pilot facilities – at IRIS Environment
- PFI pilot facilities – NorBioLab for biomass conversion
The Research Council of Norway runs several programs to support basic and applied research. Of interest for industrial biotechnology are especially the large scale research programs Biotek2021 (Biotechnology for innovation) and Bionær (Sustainable Innovation in Food and Biobased Industries), which aim at innovative developments within industrial biotechnology and biobased industry, typically involving biocatalysis, biorefinery, biorenewables and biowaste streams. Projects funded within these programs generally consist of five to ten partners from industry and academia and run over 4 years at a budget of 5 million euros. Some examples include:
- NorZymeD – Enzyme development for Norwegian biomass – mining Norwegian biodiversity for seizing opportunities in the bio-based economy (BIOTEK2021)
- PROMAC – Energy efficient PROcessing of MACroalgae in blue-green value chains (Bionær)
- MarPol – Develop innovative biomaterials by enzyme technology for modification and upgrading of polysaccharides from marine resources (BIOTEK2021)
- CYCLE – Improve resource utilization in the food chain by developing sustainable eco-friendly bio-processes and novel technology, with research and innovation at its core (BIONÆR)
- SusValueWaste – Sustainable path creation for innovative value chains for organic waste products
- Foods of Norway – Develop animal feed from sustainable natural resources, which in itself are not suitable for food (SFI – Centre of Research-driven Innovation)
Innovation Norway runs several programs within its Bioeconomy program to support and fund the development of industrial biotechnology and biorefinery, as well as environmental technology. Companies can apply for funding of their process development and upscaling projects.
- development of biotech platforms, excellent infrastructures and highly competent and skilled scientists
- availability of large amounts of bioresources
- industrial biotechnology and biobased industries still underdeveloped
This is why international collaborations are important for the Norwegian industrial biotech sector. In February 2011, Norway and the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding . This three-year bilateral agreement intended to foster transnational collaboration between industries and research institutions in the area of industrial biotechnology and biorefining. Several highly successful collaborative projects have been realized within this framework. The UK – Norway IB & Biorefinery Directory includes comprehensive information on competence in the two countries, and enables to search for partners and new technologies.
- Industrial Biotechnology Network Norway (IBNN) – Ernst Kloosterman, Managing Director
Documents and links
Get a good overview over industrial biotech, biobased industries and the bioeconomy in Norway by watching these short videos: