Green light for Barents BioCentre

“This goes hand in glove with the national trade and industry policy,” said the Minister of Trade and Industry, Trond Giske, when he opened the Barents BioCentre and new building at the Tromsø Science Park on May 25.

Trond Giske is better known as the Minister of Trade and Industry than as a chemist, but he gave the all clear for the Barents BioCentre and new building – from red light to green – by performing a unspecified chemical process. Wearing a lab coat and protective glasses, Giske opened the new building at the science park in Breivika with a steady hand.

The building has already been to use by among others Norut Tromsø, which moved in at the start of the year. All the facilities are now complete and there is particular excitement about the activities in the Barents BioCentre’s new laboratory section.

Read more about the Barents BioCentre.

Unknown treasure
“We should concentrate on what we are good at and biotechnology has an enormous international potential,” said Giske in his opening speech. “This is part of making Northern Norway just as knowledge-intensive and research-intensive as the rest of the country.”

“We hope that this centre will act as a magnet to attract young and reasonably young talents. The bio cluster in Northern Norway is an unknown treasure that needs to be made visible,” said Giske. He encouraged the approximately 100 people in attendance to share the story about the bio cluster in Tromsø in order to attract the students of the future.

Tromsø Mayor and Chairperson of the RDA Board Arild Hausberg emphasised in his speech that NOK 32 million of RDA funding had made the Barents BioCentre possible. RDA is business-oriented funding scheme that was introduced when the scheme for differentiated employers’ social security contributions were phased out.

He also touched on research activity that takes place in the building, and mentioned Norut’s rapid development connected with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).
“If I have understood CEO Burkow right, everyone will soon have an ultralight aircraft in their garden,” the mayor joked.

Industrial activity of the future
Barents BioCentre Board Chairperson and Norut CEO Ivan C. Burkow focussed on the fact that the Barents BioCentre shall be industry-oriented and take care of the industry’s perspective. “The industrial activity of the future is knowledge-based, environmentally robust and client-driven,” emphasised Burkow.

As the volcanic ash clouds from the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Grimsvötn led to the postponement of the Minister’s onward travel to Svalbard, Ivan C. Burkow invited Giske and his entourage on a guided tour of the new building. The view from the building is currently dominated by the view of the oil rig Polar Pioneer, which is moored at the port a stone’s throw from the science park for maintenance, providing a reminder that Northern Norway has entered the petroleum age in earnestness.

But inside the science park, the focus on May 25 was on the future of biotechnology in the north.

Facts about the new building
The Industrial Development Corporation of Norway (SIVA) has invested NOK 170 million in the new building, which is 8100 m² in size. Norut occupies the new building’s top two floors. The laboratory facilities at the Barents BioCentre cover an area of 650 m².

In all SIVA has invested nearly NOK 500 million in the Tromsø Science Park, which comprises three buildings totalling approx. 26,000 m². The Tromsø Science Park is today the work place for around 900 knowledge workers. The site has space for a further two buildings.

The foundation stone for the Barents BioCentre was laid by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg on August 29, 2009, who was also accompanied by Tromsø Mayor Arild Hausberg, SIVA Director Harald Kjelstad, University of Tromsø Rector Jarle Aarbakke and Norut CEO Ivan C. Burkow.

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