Bioeconomy

Two important industries in the Norwegian bioeconomy are forestry and the marine sectors.

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Foto: Borregaard

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From black to green carbon

Norway aims to be a frontrunner in the emerging bioeconomy. While the petroleum industry has been important to Norwegian development over the last few decades, Norway has always been strong in traditional biobased industries such as fisheries, forestry and agriculture. With an abundance of high quality raw materials and a skilled workforce, Norway is presently developing a leading position in advanced biorefining, particularly related to advanced processing of marine co-products and lignocellulose.

A national bioeconomy initiative

The Norwegian Government is currently developing a national strategy for the bioeconomy, in order to prepare the industry for the opportunities related to new value chains and markets based on sustainable manufacturing. The Government has already  increased its investments in renewable industries through several grant programs administrated by the Norwegian Research Council and Innovation Norway.

Biobased knowledge centres

As biobased value chains typically depends on a multidisciplinary approach, we see new alliances emerging. Knowledge hubs with unique strengths are now extending their capabilities into new sectors.

  • Heidner is a cluster in the southeast of Norway, leveraging a world-leading expertise in breeding technologies. Originally developed for livestock and pig farming, this competence has created an essential basis for Norway success in salmon aquaculture.
    The Heidner community maintains close relations to the large University of Life Sciences (NMBU) at Ås, 50 km south of Oslo, which represents a major academic center and a cluster of key research institutes such as NOFIMA and NIBIO (link).

For the marine sciences, there are main centers in the cities of Bergen and Ålesund on the west coast of Norway, as well as in Tromsø further north.

In Trondheim, the polytechnical university of NTNU with close to 25.000 students and Northern Europe’s largest research institute, SINTEF and the Paper and Fiber Institute PFI, creates a major center for process engineering and industrial biotechnology.

The processing industry is also strong in Grenland and adjacent regions in Southern part of Norway, represented by industry clusters such as the Eide network.

Opportunities

Norway can offer access to high-quality raw materials, for further details please see the marine and forestry subpages. In the marine sector, new organisms such as seaweed or tunicates represent access to novel biomolecules with exciting prospects. Tunicates, for instance, contains more than >20% lignin-free, long-chained cellulose, thus illustrating a blue-green cross-sectorial opportunity.

In Trondheim, the Seaweed Centre offers broad expertise, research infrastructure and services extending from cultivation technologies to biomass harvesting and valorisation.

Tromsø is home to Biotep (link), an open access facility with a fully equipped pilot plant for scaling up marine processes and co-products, including enzymatic hydrolysis.

Marin bioprospecting is another important opportunity. The large repository of biological samples from arctic waters at Marbank in Tromsø welcomes international partners and Bergen Centre for Geobiology offers access to a unique collection of microorganisms sourced from hydrothermal vents in the mid-Atlantic ridge.

Norway has always been a leading nation in forestry and wood-based products. Norwegian homes has been made of wood since the Viking era and the expertise on the use of wood is now being extended to ground breaking designs in the construction of bridges, cultural centers or 20-stories apartment buildings.

With the reduced demand for paper, Norwegian pulp industry is redirecting their knowledge and infrastructure into production of micro-and nanocellulosic fibers and composite materials. Furthermore, there are a number of current initiatives related to bio-coal and aviation fuel (read more at Pan Innovasjon).