Direct support and guidance of the research projects in the centre is the main focus of the network project to reach the goal of transforming Norwegian biotechnology research to increase innovation and value creation. The support aims to stimulate collaboration across disciplines and projects, innovation and commercialisation, industry collaboration, research data management and responsible research and innovation (RRI). Examples from the last year includes helping projects finding industry and research partners for EU grants, assisting with applications for milestone funding from the Research Council of Norway (RCN) and help with planning of research and commercialisation value chain, in addition to providing information about relevant funding opportunities from the RCN and other sources. In collaboration with ELIXIR Norway, we have provided help to researchers on how and where to store their data and have contributed to international guidance on how to make data on Covid-19 quickly available for relevant research. The centre has supported BioMedData that was launched in June; a joint project of Norwegian life science research infrastructure programs that aims to build an open and collaborative framework for exchange of life science data. A new annual learning forum between RCN and the centre was initiated in April focusing on mutual learning and knowledge exchange on RRI dimensions in the centre.
Our guidance is supplemented with calls to fund activities on innovation, data management and cross collaboration between the research projects. Two projects have been granted innovation funding to run a commercial validation assessment through the Aleap health incubator and a third project to do a patent search report. The winner of the prize for the best transdisciplinary publication was announced in April.
In January 8 new partner projects entered the centre. As part of the admission process the network project for the first time hosted network meetings in Bergen, Oslo and Trondheim. The project leaders of nearly all the 35 research projects of the centre, and the centre leadership, attended the meetings to learn about each other?s work. The meetings were a success and will be repeated in the future.
The centre runs several events and courses, many in close collaboration with our research school that with its 450 PhD students and postdocs aims to increase transdisciplinary competence among the next generation of scientists. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the national conference for the research school was this year organised as a digital event, and the centre is planning a digital annual conference in November. Our signature course Transdisciplinary life science was launched in August focusing on team work, RRI thinking and data management. The RRI course Science, technology, and society was held for the second time this autumn. A course in design thinking for health technology students and teachers is under development in collaboration with at Nordic?Baltic network and we are planning webinar series on regulatory affairs and IP. RCN has granted funding to organise a second edition of the lean innovation in life sciences workshop next year. Our longstanding breakfast seminar series ?Digital frokost? has expanded outside of Bergen, first to Oslo as a joint event together with the Norwegian Artificial Intelligence Research Consortium (NORA) and now to Trondheim and the digital sphere.
One huge achievement this year was the launch of our industry internship initiative after two years of planning involving the whole centre. Seven PhD students from the research school are now gaining valuable working experience from companies in Norway and Sweden. The initiative was developed in close collaboration with the host institutions of the candidates and selected biotech companies and clusters and will strengthen collaboration between academia and industry. The innovation project «A road map for academic research-intensive innovation » that was launched in January is well integrated in the centre and has so far delivered a status report on the Norwegian innovation ecosystem.
The network project has hired several new coordinators the last year to be fully operable all to the end of the first funding period of the centre in February 2021. We have also hired young researchers for specific tasks linked to outreach and a white paper about transdisciplinarity.
A major task for the centre management has been to prepare for a new centre period through a two-stage RCN application process involving all workgroups with representatives from NTNU, UiO and UiB. The work was rewarded with a new funding period for the network project including four new partners in addition to NMBU, SINTEF, Oslo?University Hospital and?UiT?The Arctic University of Norway.
Information about all our activities are published on our web site digitallifenorway.org and shared through monthly newsletters and in social media.
The proposed Centre for Digital Life Norway (DLN) breaks the traditional organisation of research and development, by constructing world leading scientific tasks forces that aim to untangle and resolve some of the fundamental societal challenges facing current and forthcoming biotechnology.
The proposed DLN Centre will focus on delivering key instruments for innovation to the Norwegian society and industry, and DLN is relevant for all the main ambitions of the strategic effort Digital Life Convergence for Innovation as described in the call documents. Our short-term goal is to establish a robust and well-functioning Centre that can catalyze development of best practice biotechnology research, training and education in Norway. Our long-term aim is to create economic, societal and environmental value in Norway from biotechnological research and innovation. Our main tool for improving the research quality and innovation potential of the biotechnology research in Norway is to facilitate transdisciplinary research between the life sciences, the mathematical/ICT sciences and the engineering sciences, and an overarching ambition is that all scientific projects in our portfolio shall be strictly transdisciplinary and in accordance with the principles of responsible research and innovation (RRI), based on knowledge co-production between the DL research community and stakeholders and society.