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Master plan to strengthen marine research in Bergen

A marine cluster in Bergen would contribute to the creation of new work, establish an even stronger climate research environment and contribute to a more secure sea food production. The University of Bergen wants to play a major part in such a cluster.

Agreement on marine master plan for research in Bergen, left to right: UiB’s Rector Dag Rune Olsen, State Secretary Dilek Ayhan from Norway’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, and Managing Director Tore Nepstad at IMR.
INTERNATIONALISATION AND INVESTMENT: A marine research cluster will contribute to Bergen’s international standing and encourage an increase in funding to both research and industry in the region. Left to right: UiB’s Rector Dag Rune Olsen, State Secretary Dilek Ayhan from Norway’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, and Managing Director Tore Nepstad at IMR.
Photo:
Sverre Ole Drønen

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On Tuesday 1 September 2015, the Norwegian government announced a marine master plan to gather the major marine research environments in a cluster, along with partners from the marine industries, to create a collaboration that would have international impact.

On Wednesday 2 September 2015, the leadership of both the University of Bergen (UiB) and the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) met with representatives from the Norwegian government to discuss the future of such a cluster.

“Collocation is an important issue for us. We have a mandate not to waste tax payers’ money. That is why we need to see clearly the professional and academic gain before collocating these environments into one cluster,” said state secretary Bjørn Haugstad from Norway’s Ministry of Education and Research about the marine master plan and the development of a marine cluster in Bergen.

 

A driving force for a marine cluster

UiB will be one of the driving forces to establish a marine cluster and to collocate the various environments conducting research in this field. For UiB, this will include research from a variety of interdisciplinary fields.

“With its clear ambitions to collocate, the governments signals that the University of Bergen is an important institution for education, research, innovation and sustainable marine industries,” said UiB’s rector Dag Rune Olsen.

“The university has a long-term strategy with a goal of delivering research and education of top quality. Establishing clusters of knowledge will strengthen Norway’s standing internationally and create more research-based innovation in the marine industries.”

 

Building bridges in Bergen

Along with other leading actors in marine research and development, UiB has worked for years to create stronger collaborations. In spring 2015 a strategic agreement was made between UiB and IMR. This agreements is strengthened by the introduction of the government’s marine master plan.

“We are very comfortable with such a plan. Physical distance creates segregation, thus collocation is one of the primary objects to achieve,” said IMR’s Managing Director Tore Nepstad.

He pointed out that good communications between research, advising and management together have contributed to turning Bergen into a strong marine research centre.

“There is no other place in the world that can compete with the quality and volume produced in marine research in Bergen. The numbers speak for themselves and the reason is plainly the many years put into building this collaboration,” Nepstad said.

Both UiB and IMR view increased interdisciplinary collaboration as essential for the development of marine research, management, education and a sustainable industry in the future. An evaluation conducted as part of UiB’s long-term strategy also pointed out that the university’s marine research is world-leading. This was also underlined in the QS By Subjects ranking in spring 2015.

 

Out of the silos: an international trend

Thinking outside of silos is an international trend, which is encouraged as part of major research efforts such as the EU’s Horizon 2020 (H2020) programme, which is the world’s largest framework programme of its kind. UiB has done very well in the competition for H2020 funding.

“We live in an ever more globalised marine world, where international competition, the fight for the brightest heads and the needs to solve global challenges, such as climate, food security and energy needs, is a question of how regional efforts to collaborate will determine who will be stronger in the future,” said UiB’s Rector Dag Rune Olsen.