“I would like to express my great appreciation to the University of Tromsø, Norut, the Tromsø Science Park and SIVA,” said Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg when he laid the foundation stone for the Barents BioCentre.
“The utilisation of marine organisms is an important part of our efforts in the High North. Here in Tromsø, the knowledge environment within the field of bioprospecting is amongst the best in the world,” said Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg on Saturday, August 29, when he spoke while laying the foundation stone for the Tromsø Science Park’s third construction phase.
The building will amongst other things house the Barents BioCentre. There will be laboratory facilities and offices for basic research, applied research and production companies within biotechnology.
Norut Tromsø will be one of the largest tenants in the new building. Norut is co-ordinating the work to develop the Barents BioCentre, and Norut’s own efforts in the field of biotechnology will form part of this. Norinnova will also have a central role in the Barents BioCentre.
The Prime Minister said he had read long documents about bioprospecting, but wanted to leave it to others to explain what it was about. Several of those present at the foundation laying ceremony are more than adequately qualified to do that. Representatives from the business community, applied research, innovation companies and the university gathered at the construction site on Saturday morning.
“When I meet such bioprospecting people, they always look so brightly and optimistically towards the future. This is some of our most futuristic research,” said Stoltenberg. “
“I would like to express my great appreciation to the University of Tromsø, Norut and the Tromsø Science Park who want to develop this capacity,” said the Prime Minister, also paying tribute to building developer SIVA.
“It is a great honour and pleasure for me to lay the foundation stone for what will be a fantastic building with fantastic knowledge,” said the Prime Minister before donning a safety helmet and work gloves and carrying out the actual masonry work.
A thousand buildings
SIVA Managing Director Harald Kjeldstad said to date SIVA had built 1000 buildings, but this was the first time a Prime Minister had laid a foundation stone. When the third phase of construction is completed, SIVA will have invested NOK 500 million in the Tromsø Science Park, combining investments both buildings and actors such as Norinnova, Norut and the incubator.
Kjeldstad invited the Prime Minister to participate in the official opening of the building in November 2010. “As Prime Minister,” remarked Stoltenberg quickly, a fortnight out from the Norwegian parliamentary election.
Norut CEO Ivan C. Burkow led the foundation stone laying ceremony. According to Burkow, there are now 25 knowledge-based companies, which collectively account for around 500 jobs, with roots in the biotechnology research at the University of Tromsø.
Solving the big problems
University Rector Jarle Aarbakke identified three important key words for this effort: long-term, teamwork and solidarity.
“It may take until the next generation until we see the rewards from this effort. It’s questionable whether those making the effort now will play a part in reaping the rewards,” said Aarbakke.
“This is a joint venture. It’s essential to have a solid foundation among many actors,” said Aarbakke, adding: “The perspective is international. We want the world’s best young people to contribute here. The goal is to solve the very big problems
Norway’s new Statoil
Tromsø Mayor Arild Hausberg called the investment in Barents BioCentre Norway’s new Statoil.
“We are talking here about perpetual values, which are reproducing all the time,” said the Mayor. “This time we are hoping the values will remain in this part of the country.”
The Mayor also focussed on the fact that the efforts with biotechnology provide a joint lift: locally, regionally and nationally.
“This is a big dag and I’m very proud,” concluded Tromsø’s Mayor.