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We want to be a driver for the transformation of Norway

“This is a major and important boost for Norway. The SFI centres aim to create the business and industry of the future. NTNU and SINTEF want to be a driver for the major transformation that the nation is facing,” say NTNU’s Rector Anne Borg and Alexandra Bech Gjørv, President and CEO of SINTEF.

Rector Anne Borg at NTNU (left) and Alexandra Bech Gjørv, President and CEO of SINTEF
Rector Anne Borg at NTNU (left) and Alexandra Bech Gjørv, President and CEO of SINTEF, are delighted with the award of new SFI centres. Photo: Thor Nielsen/NTNU – Geir Mogen/SINTEF

They are delighted that NTNU and SINTEF will be responsible for a total of nine new Centres for Research-based Innovation (SFIs). NTNU will head five of them and will participate in six others as well. SINTEF will host four and contribute to a further six centres. Each centre can receive an annual grant from the Research Council of Norway of up to NOK 12 million. 

The top-level executives describe the SFIs as national teams where research institutes, universities and industry from all over the country together create new arenas in which Norway will make its mark internationally. 

The centres to be hosted by NTNU and SINTEF will represent a wide variety of disciplines. Fully four of them belong to NTNU’s Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering. These will contribute to digitalization and automation in business and industry. Several of the other centres will work on the development of new, sustainable and green industries.  

Hoping for new success stories in Norwegian industry 

“We know that when we systematically link the corporate world with research, this is often the start of new success stories in Norwegian industry. This is the golden key to how we build world-leading business clusters. A high degree of trust, short distances and systematic collaboration between industry and research form a good Norwegian model for value creation,” says Bech Gjørv. 

 “The crisis creates opportunities for transformation” 

For NTNU, participation in the SFI centres is important both for basic research and for education. Among other benefits, many PhD students find their projects in the SFI centres. A number of PhD graduates and master’s students have previously found jobs in the companies that participate in the SFI consortia. 

 “Naturally, we are a little apprehensive about whether the problems in the corporate world after the coronavirus shutdown will affect participation in the SFI centres. When the applications were written in autumn last year, the situation was completely different. At the same time, the crisis provides an opportunity to think of long-term restructuring. In a situation like this, the public and private sectors have much to gain from joining forces,” says Rector Anne Borg.

Collaboration with business and industry  

“The great advantage of the SFIs is that they bring together the entire food chain with education, basic research, development of technology, innovation and commercialization,” say Borg and Bech Gjørv. The last few months have shown us that this food chain is extremely important for Norway’s competitive edge. Norwegian development must be in the forefront, and today’s SFI awards enable us to strengthen our muscles in these sectors.  This creates jobs and green transformation. 

New SFI centres to be managed from SINTEF:

  • SFI Harvest (SINTEF) - Technologies for sustainable biomarine value creation. SFI Harvest will conduct research on sustainable exploitation of marine resources at a low level in the food chain. The technological innovations in SFI Harvest will make it possible to produce food for the world’s growing population from species in the ocean that have not yet been exploited to a significant extent.
  • SFI Blues (SINTEF) - Floating structures for the next generation ocean industries. SFI Blues will conduct research on floating construction for the future needs in renewable energy, aqua culture and coastal infrastructure.
  • SFI SWIPA (SINTEF), Centre for Subsurface Well Integrity, Plugging and Abandonment. SFI SWIPA will contribute to climate-friendly creation of value on the Norwegian continental shelf. The centre aims to achieve a scientific understanding of permanent well barriers and improve the methods for plugging wells. Successful innovation in this field will result in substantial savings for Norway.
  • SFI Centre for Industrial Biotechnology (SINTEF), expertise and technology for the biotechnology industry. Industrial biotechnology is expected to be an important driver for establishing the sustainable bioeconomy that the world sorely needs. Through the SFI Centre for Industrial Biotechnology, the four research players with the foremost expertise and infrastructure and 15 industrial players with clearly defined needs for innovation will join forces in a national team that will give Norway a prominent position in the face of accelerating global competition.

New centres to be managed from NTNU:

  • Autoship - Autonomous ships
    The centre’s specialized areas of focus are:
    1. Innovations in enabling technologies, such as situational awareness, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, digital infrastructure, remote control, simulation and testing.
    2. New business models and operational concepts that explore the use of autonomous vessels in a broader context.
    3. How to guarantee safety and security in the use of autonomous vessels.

  • NORCICS - Norwegian Center for Cybersecurity in Critical Sectors (NORCICS)
    The Norwegian Center for Cybersecurity in Critical Sectors aims to help make Norway the most secure digitalized country in the world. NORSIS will improve resilience and increase cybersecurity in areas where it is vital that society is protected, such as:
    • national security
    • the financial sector
    • the health sector
    • our industrial production
    • generation and supply of energy
    • the transport sector, and others

  • Norwegian Centre for Research-Based Artificial Intelligence Innovation (CRAI)
    Will conduct research on artificial intelligence and big data. The purpose is to develop pioneering theories, methods and technologies for effective and responsible exploitation of data-driven artificial intelligence in innovative industrial solutions. The centre includes the nation’s strongest environments in artificial intelligence and big data, as well as some of the most technologically ambitious driving forces in Norwegian industry.

  • Centre for Geophysical Forecasting – CGF
    The centre will develop new methods that enable far more continuous and extensive monitoring of the Earth and resource utilization in particular.
    Specific areas where great advances are needed in the future are:
    • CO2 storage
    • better monitoring of oil reservoirs
    • monitoring of landslides, earthquakes and the environment 

  • PhysMet - Centre for sustainable and competitive metallurgical and manufacturing industry
    Will help metallurgical industry in Norway in the transition to more sustainable production, and in developing and using the materials of the future. The centre will comprise a research environment of international calibre in the field of physical metallurgy and will thus be a key resource for the Norwegian metal industry in the green shift.

More information about the SFI scheme is available at the website for the Research Council of Norway: https://www.forskningsradet.no/en/about-the-research-council/programmes/sfi/ 

Published 12 June 2020

Comments and interviews: 

  • Alexandra Bech Gjørv, President and CEO, SINTEF
    +47 918 06 193 
  • Vincent Wego Fleischer, Director Strategy and Communication, SINTEF
    +47 415 66 414 

Contact persons for the centres: