- Dramatic situation for the Life Science Building
Budget cuts in the Life Science Building project will have serious consequences for UiO and for Norway's investment in knowledge and innovation. The building is pivotal to the further development and modernisation of the University of Oslo, and to the development of the innovation district Oslo Science City.
The Life Science Building planned in Gaustadbekkdalen. Illustration: Ratio arkitekter
Difficult ground conditions, with a lot of clay, and extra engineering costs have resulted in significant budgets cuts in order for the project to stay within its economic frames. The Ministry of Education and Research has therefore commissioned Statsbygg and UiO to review the project and highlight the consequences of cuts.
– We understand that budget overruns of this magnitude are very demanding for the government. Throughout the process, which started as early as 2005, UiO has been temperate and loyal to the project development. We are now very concerned. A cut will affect the professional and innovative activities of which both Parliament and government have high expectations. This will make it far more difficult to create a world-leading university environment with research, education and innovation in life sciences, chemistry and pharmacy, said Svein Stølen, Rector at the University of Oslo.
Hits knowledge, innovation and business development
The purpose of the investment in life sciences and the Life Science Building is to connect different subjects and disciplines in order to understand life and life's processes. This will be used to solve challenges related to aging, disease, food production, biotechnology, and climate and environmental change. Life sciences will bring together pharmacy, medicine and chemistry with research in biology, nano- and biotechnology, medical technology, big data, and artificial intelligence. Collaborations with Oslo University Hospital and business and innovation environments, will lead to the emergence of innovation, industries and jobs. That is why the Life Science Building is designed with integrated functions. Budget cuts in one area will affect activity elsewhere.
– It is paradoxical that in the midst of a serious pandemic, we may end up cutting back on a comprehensive investment in a knowledge environment that will work, for example, with vaccine development, antibiotic resistance and health – and which will also create innovation, business development and new jobs, said Stølen.
Investing in the future
– UiO is a leading European university with excellent research and competes with leading knowledge environments globally. This requires investments in research and research infrastructure. The Life Science Building is an example of what a modern university must focus on, given the global competition. It is also a key part of the Oslo Science City innovation district that the Prime Minister recently took part in launching. Such a large cut will significantly affect competitiveness, said Stølen.
Statsbygg and UiO have until 30 September to respond to the assignment letter from the Ministry of Education and Research.
– The important thing for UiO is that we maintain the functions within research, education and innovation that are described in the original plan. We look forward to a constructive dialogue, said Stølen.