On Wednesday May 6, the Minister visited MARINTEK and NTNU Ocean Week, where he took part in a debate with students and leading members of NTNU's staff.
"The upgrading of the Marine Technology Centre must be given special priority in order to ensure that the new building and infrastructure are put into place, so that we can tackle the important social challenges we face," said Røe Isaksen.
The government wishes to set a new standard for research policy, not least to confirm the strong position of NTNU and SINTEF in national and international research.
"We have already drawn up a plan for these efforts, and even more importantly, we have set aside funding for them. All this we promise to deliver," said the Minister.
Multidisciplinary efforts of decisive importance
Research on ocean space is one of six areas of major effort to be supported by the government. "We simply need to accept that oil and gas are not going to be as important a motor for the Norwegian economy as they have been in the past few decades. If we are to maintain our high standard of living, we need to support knowledge generation, and the our seas will be an important component of this," said Røe Isaksen.
SINTEF President Unni Steinsmo and MARINTEK's leader group met the Minister at the end of Ocean Week, and took the opportunity to show off the Marine Technology Centre's laboratories and discuss its flagship project, the Ocean Space Centre. Steinsmo pointed out that the Centre is the western world's biggest research and education facility in the ocean space sector, and that it is vital to invest in new laboratories in order to maintain their strong position in this field.
Met innovative students
"The way in which NTNU, SINTEF and industry collaborate is unique. I know of no other interactions of this sort, and we will continue to follow this model," said Steinsmo, who also chairs MARINTEK's Board.
Røe Isaksen demonstrated a great deal of interest during his visit to MARINTEK, and talked animatedly with students and staff at the Ocean Basin and the MC Laboratory. One student, Jostein Follestad, demonstrated a new type of remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV), an idea that could soon be commercialised.
"For our research to be successful, we will have to increase our efforts in knowledge generation, interdisciplinarity and international collaboration, so it is my job to provide satisfactory frame conditions," was how the Minister summarised his point of view.
SINTEF's and NTNU's leaders were smiling from ear to ear in the wake of the Minister's visit. "We might as well just start celebrating right away. Now that he has said "A", he will have to say "B" as regards what will be done in Trondheim. We are extremely pleased about this," said Berit Kjeldstad, NTNU's Deputy Rector for Education.
Norwegian Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre wants to see the progress of the Ocean Space Centre accelerated.