Unleashing the potential of Norway’s life science sectors
The Life Science Cluster, based in Oslo, is a membership organisation that provides a network for Norwegian and international biotech and life science organisations across healthcare, marine, agriculture and forestry.
Founded in March 2016, the Life Science Cluster was created as a membership association for companies and institutions around biotech and life science, to support industry growth and increase the competitiveness and attractiveness of biotech in Norway and Oslo.
"We are a member-driven organisation and have just signed up our 84th member. We aim to be an important player in the Oslo region," said Marius Øgaard, managing director, The Life Science Cluster. "Most of our members are in Norway, but we also have international members in the US, Sweden, Denmark."
Supporting the breadth of life sciences
One of the things that sets the Life Science Cluster apart from other clusters is the breadth of coverage. This includes health and medicine (red biotech and science), the marine sector (blue biotech and science), agriculture and forestry (green biotech and science) and industry (white biotech and science).
"Traditional sectors are breaking down across the life sciences sector, and cross fertilisation between areas is an increasingly important trend, creating additional opportunities across the whole bioeconomy. We are seeing companies crossing traditional sector lines, with food companies working into biopharma and forestry and paper companies moving into biofuels and animal feed," said Øgaard. "Working across sectors makes a lot of sense – our biotech companies are all working with biomass, from whatever source."
Creating a vibrant environment
The objective of the Life Science Cluster is to create growth in Norway, and to build an environment for startups.
"The shared environment makes it easier for companies to attract staff, and to co-operate with each other, and with industry and academia," said Øgaard. "We also help start ups to gain access to capital."
The Life Science Cluster is associated with the Life Science Pilot Network, which focuses on skills development and aims to establish collaborative projects between members, therefore building industrialization expertise and laying a foundation for development of entire supply chains in Norway.
In December 2017, The Life Science Cluster moved into ShareLab, at Oslo Science Park. ShareLab, an incubator that provides access to fully equipped and serviced lab space, office space, social areas and meeting rooms, was officially opened on 21 March 2018 by the Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
"Getting lab space has been a hurdle for entrepreneurs. Working as a membership community, ShareLab will provide access to labs that are managed by professional staff, allowing start ups to focus on their own R&D," said Øgaard.
Plans for the future
There are some major life sciences infrastructure projects under way in the Oslo region, around the universities, hospitals and science parks.
"We are seeing a shift in the bioeconomy," said Øgaard. "the next ten years will be really exciting for Oslo life sciences. I expect to see a boom in the sector."
One of the trends that Øgaard has observed is that waste, for example in the food, fishing and farming sectors, is increasingly seen as a primary resource.
"Industries are now seeing residue as valuable raw materials, and they want to harvest every shred of value. Biotechnology will create a lot of new opportunities," Øgaard concluded.