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First Norwegian Idea Lab initiative: Four research projects and a researcher network

Four research projects recently received a pledge of funding from the Research Council of Norway as part of its first Idea Lab initiative (Idélab). The projects range from radically reducing energy consumption in buildings to capturing CO2 with bio-oil as a by-product.

Each project group has eight weeks to develop a full-scale project proposal to submit to the Research Council. The projects are guaranteed funding provided the grant proposals correspond with the concept originally presented during the final day of the Idélab workshop.

Hectic week yielded excellent results

The theme of the workshop was “Towards a zero-emissions society,” with the interfaces between biotechnology, nanotechnology and ICT serving as the scientific backdrop. The 27 participants had been selected from a field of 155 applicants.

Photo: Forskningsrådet Mentor Knut Deppert (left) is busy with the final preparations, project manager for the Idélab event at the Research Council, André Fossen Mlonyeni, and Idélab participant Atle Bones. (Photo: Forskningsrådet)

“The Idélab workshop took place over five hectic days that culminated in an all-out effort,” explains André Fossen Mlonyeni, Idélab project manager at the Research Council. “This kind of project development is particularly exciting because everything happens in real time. Decisions are taken then and there. At the same time, the process is transparent, so all participants can see what the other groups are doing, and they have an ongoing dialogue with the mentors who ultimately end up evaluating the projects,” says Mr Mlonyeni.

“One interesting thing to note is how completely the process and outcome depend on the people taking part. The workshop and the results achieved would presumably have been completely different had other people participated,” he says.

The following four projects emerged with a pledge of funding (working titles):

Home - Holistic monitoring of indoor environment

Research challenge: How to radically reduce energy consumption in buildings by using fast-response technologies and materials.

Project group: Bjørn Hauback, Institute for Energy Technology; Barbara Szybinska Matusiak, Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Clara Good, Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Kristine Nore, Norwegian Institute of Wood Technology; Ole Swang, SINTEF (independent research foundation); Anja Røyne, University of Oslo and Ilangko Balasingham, Oslo University Hospital.


Research challenge: How to reduce the large emissions of CO2 during cement production.

Project group: Alexander Wentzel, SINTEF; Pawel Sikorski, Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Anja Røyne, University of Oslo; Anders Myhr, Dr.techn. Olav Olsen AS (Structural engineering company) and Harald Throne-Holst, National Institute for Consumer Research.


Research challenge: How to use microalgae in large-scale carbon capture and storage.

Project group: Tobias Boström, UiT the Arctic University of Norway; Line Barkved, Norwegian Institute for Water Research; Atle Bones, Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Vidar Jensen, University of Bergen; Harald Throne-Holst, National Institute for Consumer Research and Veronika Šoltészová, Christian Michelsen Research.


Research challenge: How can Norwegian agriculture help to achieve effective CO2 capture and storage through deposit of biocarbon into the soil with production of bio-oil as a fossil-fuel alternative?

Project group: Erik Joner, Bioforsk, Ole Swang, SINTEF, Maria Kollberg Thomassen, SINTEF; Pia Otte, Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Svein Jarle Horn, Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Network will continue

All 27 Idélab participants will remain connected through a formalised network funded over a three-year period by the Research Council. This enables the participants to build further on the ties they have established and continue to develop some of the project ideas that were not selected for funding.

The network will be administered by two Idélab participants: Anders Gravir Imenes of the Nordic Center for International studies and Kate Maxwell from the University of Agder.

Written by:
Claude R. Olsen/Else Lie. Translation: Glenn Wells/Carol B. Eckmann
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