The new life science building
News 12 October
News 6 September:
- The life science building: A big day for knowledge nation Norway (uio.no)
- Green light for UiO's giant initiative: Will be Norway's largest university building (aftenposten.no, in Norwegian)
– If you are wondering about how we will make our living after the oil runs out, well, this is it. This has nothing to do with reality TV or constructing bicycle paths. The importance of life science has reached new heights, says Minister of Education and Research Torbjørn Røe Isaksen (Conservative) in an interview with Aftenposten.
Read more about the building
The building for life science, chemistry and pharmacy – the life science building – at the University of Oslo (UiO) is planned to be finished by about 2024. Its 66,700 square-metre area will make it Norway’s largest detached university building.
The building will be located in the Gaustadbekk valley only a short distance from the research communities at UiO and important collaborative partners such as Oslo University Hospital (OUS) and various business clusters, all of which will be able to use the building’s facilities.
Extensive interdisciplinary collaboration – convergence – will produce groundbreaking research...
The life science building is a conceptual building. This is the first university building in Norway planned on the convergence principle – extensive interdisciplinary collaboration. Research based on interdisciplinary cooperation will become increasingly important if we are to conduct groundbreaking research that contributes towards solving grand challenges.
Major advances in measuring technology during the past decade have enabled medical and biological research to generate enormous amounts of data. Analysis and understanding of so-called “big data” demand interdisciplinary cooperation between medical experts, biologists, mathematicians, data experts, physicists and other specialists. Flexibility has been a central aspect in planning the building, so that it will be able to adapt to research developments and changing interdisciplinary requirements.
...and better education for the future labour force
Interdisciplinary collaboration and convergence are also important for enhanced education in life science. It will be the current generation of competent students and young researchers who will create the new, sustainable products, services and jobs in new, greener industrial fields such as health and the marine sector – areas that Norway needs to bolster.
They will also discover new digital solutions and new work methods that will help prevent the need for more healthcare workers from becoming acute. The life science building will be an incubator for new concepts, innovation and young talents, so that provisions are made to ensure the success of tomorrow’s workforce in solving the great tasks that lie ahead of them.
Closer collaboration to strengthen the entire Oslo region...
The new building will also permit UiO to make better provisions for close cooperation with other links in the value chain, from basic research to application. Thus, we can reach the objective of higher quality and relevance in research and education, along with better utilization of the innovation potential in research.
The modern scientific equipment and infrastructure will be available to the outside world as well. The building is also intended to serve as a meeting place for students, research fellows, post-doctoral scholars and researchers from all of UiO and other research institutions, health enterprises, municipalities and the life-science business sector. The building will thereby strengthen the entire Oslo region in the fields of health, marine industries, green industry and agriculture, all of which are dependent on the same enabling technologies: biotechnology, information technology and nanotechnology.
...intended to result in more success stories
UiO wants more success stories like that of Algeta, the company that developed a new pharmaceutical product for treatment of prostate cancer and sold it to the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer for 17.6 billion NOK in 2014. The company was based on interdisciplinary collaboration and has created jobs both in Norway and abroad.
UiO’s researchers also contribute, together with others, towards increased value creation for fish farming and the fishing industry. In 2014 alone, new insights into genetic material in salmon resulted in a savings of 2.6 billion NOK for the fish farming industry.
UiO’s innovation company Inven2 already has several promising start-up companies in the life sciences. Inven2 is co-owned with the Oslo University Hospital, an arrangement that is particularly conducive to innovation in life science through the collaboration between UiO and OUS. With UiO’s commitment to life science – UiO:Life Science – the university is working to reach its goal: more successes.
The hub of Oslo Life Science City
The Life Science building will be the hub of Oslo Life Science City, shown on this map along with the partners in UiO’s ecosystem for innovation.
The story behind the building
From an outdated building to a strategic tool
The Life Science Building is one of two construction projects that are prioritized in the Government’s Long-term plan for research and higher education. The plans for a life science building began three decades ago when the Department of Chemistry and The School of Pharmacy buildings were no longer suitable for modern laboratory work. When the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research chose to incorporate the interdisciplinary subject life science into the planning of a new building for chemistry and pharmacy, the concept of the building went from being an urgent necessity in terms of health, environment, safety and poor infrastructure to becoming a strategic tool that could make Norway increasingly competitive in the area of life science and that would also bolster the Norwegian economy.
Who and what will be housed in the building?
- The Department of Chemistry, The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
243 employees (all categories of academic staff, PhD fellows, post-docs, administrative personnel )
- The School of Pharmacy, The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
- Life science
target number of staff members: 500
- NCMM, The Faculty of Medicine, accounts for 150 of these
- The remaining 350 will be affiliated with:
- Core facilities linked with the competence environments in chemistry, pharmacy and NCMM such as structural biology, chemical biology and computational life science;
- A hub-node structure is also planned featuring activities in the new building as well including proteomics, imaging and electron microscopy, in addition to some model organisms;
- along with a number of interdisciplinary research groups that will have the opportunity to converge for brief or longer periods of time; one illustration of these interdisciplinary groups is the convergence environments, the first were established in the spring, and new ones will emerge moving forward to the completion of the building
- In addition, there will be room for 400 master’s degree students
Facts about the life science building
- one of two building projects the Norwegian Government has prioritized in the Long-term plan for research and higher education
- will ensure Norway increased international competitiveness in the area of life science
- will contribute towards value creation and renewal and reorganization of the Norwegian economy
- will support Oslo University’s objective to develop the Oslo region into a Nordic power house for life science and thereby enhance Norway’s competitiveness
- will cover 66,700 m2 and will be Norway’s largest, detached university building
- will be the workplace for approximately 1000 employees and 1600 students
- will have facilities for research and teaching in life science subjects, chemistry and pharmacy
- will have flexible designs so that it can be adapted to developments in research, innovation and education
- is designed by Ratio Arkitekter AS and their planning group, which won the plan and design competition for the building in 2014 with its VEV project
- is expected to be completed in ca. 2024.
- The Norwegian Directorate of Public Construction and Property Management (Statsbygg) is the contracting builder, see the DPC’s project web pages (in Norwegian)
- See the timeline for the building project (in Norwegian)
- Read about environmental concerns that have been vital issues in the planning of the building since the very beginning (in Norwegian)
What is life science?
Life science encompasses all subject within the sciences that study the build-up, structure and function of living organisms. Medicine and biology comprise the core disciplines, supported by chemistry, physics and mathematical subjects. It also embraces social science and the humanities when these investigate connections between behaviour and consciousness and the biological basis for them, or analyse challenges that arise in the encounter between application of life science and society’s values and priorities.
Life science aims to provide new insights into what life, ageing and disease are, and to generate new solutions to meet major social challenges in the fields of health and the environment.
Some areas that benefit from new insights from research and innovation in life science are:
- prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, for example neurological disorders, cancer, dementia, infectious diseases and immune-mediated illnesses
- handling of antibiotic resistance
- management of natural resources, for example fish stocks
- healthcare services, the health industry, marine industries, agriculture and green industries
UiO’s strategic life science initiative – UiO:Life Science
UiO:Life Science is UiO’s largest strategic initiative ever. Areas of focus in the initiative:
- Strengthen quality and interaction in research
- Recruit, educate and develop talents;
- Promote innovation in the life sciences related to environment and health.
- Life sciences, ethics and society
- Interaction and internationalization
The effort has been operative for a couple years’ time and activities are well under way to enable us to make the best possible use of the new life science building from day one in terms of research, education and innovation.
Examples of activities initiated by UiO:Life Science
- Research: The initiative has recently established interdisciplinary research groups – convergence environments – that will work to solve major challenges related to health and the environment. Researchers are currently collaborating across disciplines: the natural sciences, mathematics, medicine, the humanities and social sciences. When the building is completed, it will be the first Norwegian university building with convergence as a concept, and the future convergence environments will be able to be collocated in the building.
- Education: The initiative has a vision: to establish an Oslo Graduate School of Life Science – a top-quality educational programme for students at the master’s and doctoral level.
- Innovation: The initiative is working to establish Stanford’s innovation programme SPARK to ensure that more innovation emerges from basic research at UiO. Norway will then become the third European country, joining Germany and Finland, to put this programme in place. In addition, the venture is currently initiating traineeships in industry and supports the School of Health Innovation established by the faculties of medicine at UiO, NTNU and Karolinska institutet.
- Meeting places and infrastructure: When the building opens its doors, all of UiO, other universities, hospitals and business clusters will be able to use the modern equipment park and competence gathered in the building and will be able to become a natural part of the activities in the building. The building will have areas where students can test out their ideas and a business liaison office that will mediate better contact between trade and industry and academia. The venture has established the Oslo Life Science Conference as a meeting place for everyone interested in research, education, innovation, business and policy in the area of life science. UiO is cooperating closely with Oslo municipality on a new campus strategy. We are working to develop Oslo Life Science City – in which the new building will become the heart.
Photos and illustrations
3D Tour of the life science building
Film about the building
Hear Raymond Johansen (Oslo Municipality), Kristin Skogen Lund (NHO, Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise), John-Arne Røttingen (Research Council of Norway) and Karita Bekkemellem (LMI, Pharmaceutical Industry in Norway) explain why the Life Science Building is so important: (in Norwegian)