Norwegian roadmap for Research Infrastructure

Bioresources

Core activities in the area of bioresources involve the production and processing of bioresources from ocean and land, and raw materials from forests (excluding for bioenergy purposes). The strategy also encompasses research to facilitate optimal development of bio-based products. Food production is central, but all bio-based products are included, e.g. fish feed and animal feed, biochemicals and biomaterials that can replace petroleum-based materials or address other needs in the bioeconomy.

Research objectives

The Research Council’s priorities in the area of bioresources are based on the Government's Long-term Plan for Research and Higher Education 2019–2028 (Report No 4 to the Storting, (2018–2019)), the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Government’s Bioeconomy Strategy (2016): Familiar resources – undreamt of possibilities, the Research Council’s strategy Research for Sustainable Societal and Industrial Development and white papers that highlight the importance of research and innovation in bio-based industries. The objective is for all bio-based raw materials to be optimally and sustainably utilised throughout the entire value chain. There is also great potential to be found in new, value-creating forms of utilisation and in links between the bioresource closed-loop systems, within and between sectors. Biotechnology, nanotechnology and other enabling technologies are driving the development in this research field. Interdisciplinarity and wider use of computational methods and bioinformatics will increase the relevance and impact of application of these technologies.

There is a need to encourage more research activity that facilitates the use of bioresources from the ocean and land, including waste and residual raw materials from industry and households, in a sustainable closed-loop system/circular approach and in many cases as alternative raw materials.

Norway has strong natural resource-based industries. Exploiting their potential requires developing and implementing infrastructure that promotes research and innovation and paves the way for necessary restructuring. At the same time, the underlying framework is subject to constant change due to new technology and knowledge, the emergence of new industries, growth in existing industries and increasing demands for internationalisation.

Sustainable use of bioresources requires knowledge and infrastructure that enables research on organisms, populations, genetic variation, biodiversity and ecology.

The Research Council's Portfolio Board for Land-based food, the Environment and Bioresources is responsible for research priorities within the land-based bioresources, while the Portfolio Board for Oceans is responsible for research priorities concerning marine bioresources. The research activities within these portfolios will affect where future needs to establish or continue existing infrastructure will arise.

The food industry

It is important to generate knowledge that helps the food industry to develop new and innovative processes and products that satisfy requirements relating to sustainability and the circular economy.

The Government’s Long-term plan for research and higher education identifies the need for more knowledge to curb pollution and food waste and to ensure efficient utilisation of resources through the entire value chain, from raw material production to consumption. There is great potential for reducing waste, raising the efficiency of resource utilisation, and increasing food production and other activities related to local food production.

Ensuring food safety and reducing potential negative impacts of food production and consumption will require good monitoring systems and research infrastructure. Other important objectives include developing science-based dietary recommendations and preventing lifestyle diseases.

Fisheries and aquaculture/marine industries

There are high expectations for the expansion of marine-based value creation (fisheries, aquaculture and new marine industries) in Norway. Global demand for food and new feed sources is rising, and the oceans offer many opportunities. Marine natural resources not currently utilised can become a source of new industries if Norway develops more knowledge using modern technological know-how.

Norway is the world’s second-largest exporter of seafood measured by value, and the largest producer of Atlantic salmon. It is a stated Government objective for Norway to become the world’s leading seafood nation (the Norwegian Government's Updated Ocean Strategy (2019): Blue Opportunities). It is a national goal to increase salmon production and the domestic processing of both farmed and wild fish. Increased processing of fish in Norway will open up opportunities to better utilise valuable residual raw materials and lead to reduced export (including ice), providing environmental and climate benefits.

Agriculture and forestry

Norwegian agriculture is at the forefront of important areas such as food safety, animal and plant health and export of excellent breeding materials. Norwegian food production is among the best in the world at using antibiotics and pesticides sparingly. Intensified efforts in research, technology, innovation, restructuring and efficiency measures are vital to promote an agricultural sector equipped for future challenges.

Climate change will affect primary production in both agriculture and forestry, bringing with it challenges and new opportunities. Research infrastructure that can provide new knowledge on how to adapt agriculture and forestry to the changing climate is therefore essential.

In recent years, a number of large-scale wood-based projects using new products and construction systems have been implemented, and Norwegian projects have achieved international acclaim. Wood and other bio-based materials used as building materials in construction can potentially replace materials and products with a bigger climate footprint. To increase the use of wood and other bio-based building materials, research and an appropriate research infrastructure are essential.

In addition to replacing products based on fossil fuels, biorefining of forest biomass can lead to innovation in the form of a variety of new, sustainable consumer products. Research and an appropriate research infrastructure are crucial to successfully replace fossil products with bio-based products.

Existing research infrastructure

Developing methods for sound, sustainable utilisation of bioresources requires research in many scientific disciplines and technology areas that need different types of research infrastructure. There are a number of national infrastructures featuring various instrumentation, and several of the laboratories provide access to users from academia as well as industry.

Pilot Plant Facilities for Food Processing at Campus Ås is an infrastructure for research targeting the entire production chain – from raw materials to finished, packaged food products – to promote efficient production of safe food. The infrastructure includes a pathogen facility used to test the survival and growth of pathogenic bacteria in food and production environments.

Norway participates in the European Marine Biological Research Centre (EMBRC-ERIC). The infrastructure supports studies on how marine organisms react to various changes in the marine environment. The Norwegian node of EMBRC-ERIC is specially targeted towards studies of organisms that are of relevance to fisheries and aquaculture.

The Aquafeed Technology Centre (ATC) will provide research infrastructure for developing new and improved utilisation of feed ingredients for fish farming and other industries, based on available marine, vegetable, animal and single-celled resources.

Two national research infrastructures for utilising marine raw ingredients are Mobile Sealab and the Norwegian Center for Plankton Technology. Mobile Sealab comprises a small, complete factory facility for the recovery of oil, protein-rich fractions, and other nutrients from residual raw materials produced by the fisheries industry. The Norwegian Center for Plankton Technology is a national infrastructure for development of new cultivation methods and new technology for harvesting, cultivating and processing lower trophic-level organisms in the ocean.

The Norwegian Biorefinery Laboratory (NorBioLab) is a national research infrastructure for the development of processes to convert Norwegian land-based and marine biomass to new, environmentally friendly biochemicals, biomaterials and bioenergy products. The infrastructure can be used to carry out research on many different bioresources, such as lignocellulose, marine resources and waste.

The European Life Science Infrastructure for Biological Information (ELIXIR) coordinates data resources for the life sciences. ELIXIR.NO is the Norwegian node of ELIXIR, coordinating development of Norwegian bioinformatics and providing services for the research community and industry.

NBioC is a modern Norwegian infrastructure for fermentation processes. Through these processes, algae, yeast and bacteria convert bioresources for a variety of useful purposes, for example food, feed, chemicals and biofuel.

Need for new infrastructure, upgrades and/or coordination

In the years ahead, there will be a need for upgrades and replacement of existing equipment and for entirely new infrastructures. Norwegian research communities are also encouraged to step up their engagement in relevant international research infrastructure schemes. Needs will include infrastructure that strengthens research and education for the green transition, infrastructure for monitoring and management, sustainable processing and refinement of natural resources, research on new cultivation systems, soil health and carbon storage, plant breeding and aquaculture, and research targeting the development of new products based on biological raw materials.

Technology plays an increasingly important role in many areas of society. New technology in the form of advanced sensors, automation and robotisation etc. can contribute to more sustainable agriculture and forestry.

Given the increasing volumes of data, it will be important to develop systems that enable data from different sources to be made accessible, compared and analysed. To take advantage of the inherent potential of computational methods in the future, it will be crucial to have adequate analytical and computing capacity to accommodate vast volumes of data.

Interface with other areas

Development of research infrastructure in the areas of fisheries, aquaculture, agriculture and forestry must be viewed in conjunction with infrastructure in other areas, such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, energy, architecture, material technology, building structures, health, climate, the environment and e-infrastructure.

RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURES RELATED TO BIORESOURCES

Projects Status
NBioC – Norwegian BioCentre – Norwegian Centre for Bioprocessing & Fermentation Under establishment/in operation
NorBioLab – Norwegian Biorefinery Laboratory Under establishment/in operation
FoodPilotPlant at Campus Ås Under establishment/in operation
PLANKTONLAB – Norwegian Center for Plankton Technology Under establishment/in operation
ATC – National Aquafeed Technology Centre* Funding period completed/in operation

OTHER RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURES ON THE ROADMAP RELEVANT TO BIORESOURCES

Prosjekt Status
E-INFRA ved UNINETT Sigma 2 – a national e-Infrastrucure for science Under establishment/in operation
ELIXIR.NO – A Norwegian ELIXIR Node ESFRI Landmark
EMBRC Norway – The Norwegian Node of the European Marine Biological Resource Centre ESFRI Landmark
LoVe – Lofoten-Vesterålen cabled observatory Under establishment/in operation
NAPI – Network of Advanced Proteomics Infrastructure Under establishment/in operation
NorSeq – National Consortium for Sequencing and Personalized Medicine Under establishment/in operation
NNP – The Norwegian NMR Platform Under establishment/in operation
NOR-OPENSCREEN – The Norwegian EU-OPENSCREEN node ESFRI Landmark
NORCRYST – Norwegian Macromolecular Crystallography Consortium Under establishment/in operation
NorBOL – Norwegian Barcode of Life Network* Funding period completed/in operation

* Infrastructures where the project period with Research Council funding has been concluded, or was scheduled to be concluded in 2019, do not have a separate project description on the roadmap. You will instead find a reference to the infrastructure's website or the Research Council's project bank.