Biotechnology for Innovation (BIOTEK2021)

The BIOTEK2021 programme has been established as part of the implementation of the Government’s National Strategy for Biotechnology. The strategy identifies biotechnology as an enabling technology that is vital to the development of the agricultural, marine, industrial and health sectors.

The strategy also identifies four cross-cutting focus areas:
- biotechnology and society;
- international cooperation;
- industrial development;
- knowledge base and infrastructure.

The strategy provides a framework for research initiatives in the interface between social challenges, national competitive advantages and the opportunities created through biotechnology activities.


The BIOTEK2021 programme will generate biotechnology that contributes to value creation and
innovation in order to solve societal challenges in a responsible manner.
Secondary objectives:

i) develop the generic elements within biotechnology, thus enabling Norwegian research groups in academia and industry to compete at an international top level;

ii) address the various needs and special features of each sector in a manner that activates synergies and fosters cooperation;

iii) ensure that support is provided to areas in which biotechnology is essential for value creation and industrial development that benefit society;

iv) ensure the responsible development of technology that addresses global societalchallenges in the areas of health and sustainable food and industrial production;

v) establish conditions that promote cooperation, constructive task distribution and targeted research activity within Norwegian biotechnology research;

vi) communicate with specified target groups to ensure that biotechnology research and development are in line with the needs of society.

Thematic priority areas

The BIOTEK2021 programme will focus on those areas where the use and development of biotechnology itself will make a positive impact. In general, the programme will take on a different role in those sectors that have large-scale, thematically oriented programmes as opposed to those where such programmes are not available.

Activities under the programme are to be based on cooperation between leading knowledge environments and national and international users. They must also be adapted to the knowledge base found within each of the sectors. These are:

(i) Marine sector

: The knowledge base for biotechnology must be expanded to ensure that Norwegian research groups remain at the international forefront of research. Priorities for this sector are also set out in the national strategy for marine bioprospecting.

(ii) Agricultural sector

: The knowledge base will be expanded in selected areas through national and international cooperation.


(iii) Medical sector

: The biotechnology knowledge base will be expanded while at the same time focus will be placed on better utilisation of existing research results. It will be taken into account that commercialisation of medical products and services is typically more time-consuming in this sector than in the other sectors, and priority will be given to industry-oriented research at R&D institutions.
(iv) Industrial biotechnology sector: A stronger knowledge base will be developed in selected areas through national and international cooperation. This sector is crucial for the ability to utilise R&D results in the three other sectors, and the programme’s priorities for this sector will therefore be viewed in relation to the project portfolio in the other sectors.

Biotechnology as an area of expertise shares many components with a number of subject areas such as biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and engineering. To make practical use of biotechnology, expertise in the social sciences, the humanities and law is also needed. The development of biotechnology therefore requires a high level of diverse expertise and knowledge. Some of the most innovative, future-oriented perspectives on biotechnology are emerging in the interface between nanotechnology and information technology and between biotechnology and society. Thus, interdisciplinary activity will be essential for the further development of biotechnology.

Regardless of sector, activities under the BIOTEK2021 programme will be focused on thematic areas and associated research questions on which the development and use of biotechnology will have a critical impact.


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