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NTNU and SINTEF take steps to realize their world-class ambitions

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) has entered into a strategic alliance with the research organization SINTEF to develop the technological environment in Trondheim internationally. The aim is to be among the world leaders in selected areas of R&D. On the domestic scene both institutions want greater political influence.

This week, NTNU and SINTEF entered into a new agreement to strengthen the existing close cooperation between the institutions to put them in a better position to compete internationally. By working closer together this means that it will be easier to attract the best students and researchers, obtain larger research contracts and the required resources. 

- The challenge for NTNU and SINTEF is being prominent, standing out as attractive partners both in the European framework programmes and in international research and education in general. Both NTNU rector Torbjørn Digernes and SINTEF president Unni Steinsmo feel that the best means to do this is through an alliance that binds them closer together.  

The institutions also want greater political influence in Norway – we want to be more closely involved in determining the premises for Norwegian business and research policy. It is natural that politicians consult the extensive bank of know-how and knowledge in Trondheim when drafting national, add Steinsmo and Digernes.

Best laboratories in the world in Trondheim?
“Joint international excellence” is the new term to describe this alliance between the leading technological university in Norway and one of Europe’s largest independent contract research organizations. The aim is clear. We are to be among the international leaders in areas where there are dominant industrial clusters in Norway. These include: energy, materials, and the maritime and marine sectors, states Torbjørn Digernes. In addition, the priority given to nanotechnology, ICT and biotechnology will be decisive to maintain a strong international position in the future. 

The cooperation will involve the upgrading of the infrastructure, especially the laboratories. We plan to have world-class laboratories at NTNU and SINTEF for R&D in energy, materials, and maritime and marine activities. The two institutions will work together to obtain the necessary funding from the Norwegian authorities, international bodies and other sources.

Value creation
Unni Steinsmo pointed out how much the existing strategic partnership between SINTEF and NTNU represents in terms of added value and shared resource use. Each year the knowledge bank at the Gløshaugen campus in Trondheim assists industrial development in several thousand companies and on top of this comes the education of 20 000 students at NTNU, she added. Over 500 researchers and academics work for both institutions each year.

For Norwegian industry the high-tech environment in Trondheim has been invaluable. The technologies developed at NTNU and SINTEF have formed the basis for many new business areas and spin-offs from companies such as Kongsberg Simrad, Dynal and Vingmed Sound. These new spin-offs have created several thousand work places. In addition, over 170 companies have been established by staff or graduates from NTNU and SINTEF in the past 25 years.
However, the overall technological contribution of NTNU and SINTEF is much more when you consider how these institutions have helped develop Norwegian industry in recent years. In the petroleum sector, the solutions chosen for the field developments for the Snøhvit and Ormen Lange fields are heavily dependent on the contributions from NTNU and SINTEF. Snøhvit and Ormen Lange are two of the largest and most innovative industrial projects in Europe at present.

Gemini centres
From 2006 to 2010 NTNU and SINTEF will coordinate strategic efforts in the following areas: Marine technology, biomarine activities, globalization, ICT, and materials science. These are research areas where both institutions already have eminent research groups with considerable potential given closer cooperation, synergy and strategic funding.

NTNU and SINTEF cooperate in 16 such Gemini centres today. The objective is that the centres will coordinate work and applications for large-scale R&D projects and programmes.