Door opened at Barents Biocentre Lab

Door opened at Barents Biocentre Lab

Troms County Executive Councillor for Business Development, Kari-Anne Opsal. Photo: Norut.

Executive Councillor Kari-Anne Opsal described the Barents Biocentre Lab as a political and strategic masterpiece during her official opening speech on September 4.

The Troms County Executive Councillor for Business Development was impressed by the excellent collaboration between the research community, business community and funding agencies that has led to the establishment of the Barents Biocentre. She officially opened the Barents Biocentre Lab at the Tromsø Science Park.

“This is an impressive example of teamwork. If TIL plays as well as a team they will win the Norwegian football premier league,” smiled Opsal.

Kari-Anne Opsal opens the door to the Barents Biocentre Lab. The executive councillor says the collaboration round the Barents Biocentre will be a model for the future work to establish the Arctic Petroleum Centre in Northern Norway.

Opsal revealed that on the same day as she officially opened the door to the Barents Biocentre Lab the county council had granted financial support for the international conference Bioprosp 2013 that will be arranged in Tromsø.

Unique concept

The idea behind the Barents Biocentre Lab is unique in Norway. It is based on biotechnology laboratories and state-of-the-art equipment that are hired out to companies and research groups.

Norut has taken responsibility for developing the laboratory and needed to search all the way to Québec in Canada to find a research environment that did things in the same way. Barents Biocentre Lab has now entered into a cooperation agreement with the Marine Biotechnology Research Centre (CRBM) in Canada.

From basic research to the business sector

The Chair of the Board of Barents Biocentre and CEO of Norut, Ivan C. Burkow, says the Barents Biocentre Lab is a melting pot that will create new businesses, refine the good ideas, capture the international impulses and attend to the industry’s perspective.

“Without the basic research at the University of Tromsø (UiT) that dates back 40 years, there wouldn’t be a Barents BioCentre or applied biotechnology environment,” emphasised Burkow.

Professor Trond Jørgensen congratulates (from left) Barents Biocentre Lab Manager Erling Sandsdalen and Chair of the Board Ivan C. Burkow.  Photo: Norut.Professor Trond Jørgensen from UiT has had a central role in the above-mentioned basic research. He believes the process of establishing the Barents BioCentre has gone rapidly.

“This will become a meeting point for the university researchers and commercial researchers. The laboratories have an extremely broad application. You can work with many types of molecules and chemical compounds here as well as gene mapping,” says Jørgensen.

Future challenges

The Manager of the Barents BioCentre Lab, Erling Sandsdalen, stressed that it had been a demanding job to get the equipment in place and the laboratory up and running. Sandsdalen says that in the year ahead the main focus will be on three things:

  • Getting the operation properly under way
  • Developing service offerings that are in demand among commercial actors
  • Creating a superstructure for the biotechnology and life science environment connected to the science park

Cautiously optimistic

The Managing Director of Orthogenics, Bjørn Langgård, admits he is cautiously optimistic about the future.

“There are major challenges in the biotechnology industry. Developing products takes more time than we have, requires more capital than we have, requires a high level of knowledge and competence and commercial experience and involves major risk,” says Langgård.

He experienced difficult framework conditions during the company’s start-up phase in 2006 and pointed out that it was virtually impossible to gain access to the necessary laboratory facilities.

“The biotechnology industry has a critical need for advanced equipment and technology. A small company doesn’t have the possibility of building up such infrastructure. The cluster in Tromsø will now gain access to the latest and best on the equipment front,” says Langgård.

Managing Director of Orthogenics, Bjørn Langgård. Photo: Norut.