More strategic research initiatives
The results from the strategic research initiatives are already so good that the Managing Director of Nofima, Øyvind Fylling-Jensen, would like to start up more.
This article is one in a series of four articles about Nofima´s strategic research projects Spectec og Peptek.
- With the use of modern, research-based process technology and expertise, unused or under utilized biomass of marine or terrestrial origin can be used for new, marketable products.
- We coordinate, develop and increase Nofima’s total expertise related to the future of sustainable protein production.
- Peptek is a strategic research initiative focused on sustainability, total utilization, food safety and future food security.
- Over almost 40 years, Nofima has built up a strong scientific community in the field of spectroscopy – rapid and non-destructive measurements for process optimization.
- We possess solid expertise within an international format and a modern instrument platform, which is unique in Norway and comparable to the best in Europe.
- We wish to develop this further by means of establishing the strategic research initiative Spectec.
“I think we could quite easily accommodate one or two more. We are soon at a stage in our research under the two existing initiatives where we can evaluate their success formally, but I am already convinced that they have been so successful that we will soon launch similar initiatives in several other disciplines. This is an excellent way for us to combine developing research with the needs of the business world,” says Fylling-Jensen.
Nofima is a non-profit, applied research institute. This means that any surplus from operations is not paid out as dividends, but is reinvested in further research.
After a number of difficult years, in 2015 Nofima’s financial position improved, and the management and board of the institute wanted to invest in forward-looking projects that could give Nofima a leading position and international recognition in specific fields of expertise.
“We wanted to be able to work on long-term research with predictability and in areas where we see that industry will need research-based knowledge. As an applied research institute, it is crucial that we work on projects that not only result in scientific publications, but that can also be implemented in industry along the way. Potential usefulness is always a top criterion when choosing projects. And with a very high success rate,” the Managing Director confirms.
There were ten projects on the drawing board in 2015. Two of them stood out as having particular potential:
“Peptek, based on the bioeconomy and the circular economy, with a focus on reducing food waste, better resource utilization for society, and higher earnings for industry; and Spectec with technological development and a wide range of possible applications within non-destructive quality measurement in an increasingly digitalized world was clearly a forward-looking project,” explains Fylling-Jensen.
He says that the experience so far proves that they made the right choice. At the same time, there are several other research areas in Nofima with similar potential relative to the defined criteria: commercially useful, relevant, innovative and capable of being translated into something concrete in industry.
Finding candidates for new strategic research projects should not be a problem.
The current projects are scheduled to run until the end of 2019, with the possibility of extension. The investment of approximately NOK 8 million a year appears to have been money well spent – for society in general, in terms of increased knowledge that will benefit the food industry, and for Nofima, in the form of new research projects.
Øyvind Fylling-Jensen highlights one more success criterion for the strategic research initiatives:
“Nofima also wanted to bring in external research fellows and postdoctoral researchers, whose new angles and approaches could help drive our research forward. Here too the projects have been a success.”