The three organisations recently took this step in response to the Government's large-scale national initiative on bio-prospecting (the search for valuable, biologically active components from marine and terrestrial organisms). The expert group will offer input on how such an initiative should be approached in order to optimise Norwegian value creation with the help of appropriate links between natural resources, rights, R&D communities, infrastructure and commercial players.
The expert group will provide, among other things, a description of the elements and phases that should be included in a Norwegian programme on bioprospecting, with milestones and alternative strategies up to 2020.
Initiative based on Norway's comparative advantages
One of the group's tasks is to assess the bio-sprospecting activities initiated by the Research Council during the period 2002-2006 which facilitated the growth of the dynamic scientific community in Tromsø and the Centre for Research-based Innovation on marine bio-actives and drug discovery, known as MabCent. The group will also provide an assessment of the areas in which Norway could become an international leader based on its comparative advantages.
"Bio-prospecting is a priority area that offers a unique opportunity for Norway, and northern Norway in particular," states Anne Kjersti Fahlvik, Executive Director of the Division for Strategic Priorities. "Norwegian companies have begun to make their mark within European biotechnology, and Norway has enormous biotechnological potential due to good government funding over the years and effective ties between research communities, commercial players and cutting-edge groups in the areas of cancer, diagnostics and marine bio-prospecting," she explains.
Planning based on the report
The expert group will submit its report by the close of 2007. This report will provide a basis for drawing up plans for the organisation, infrastructure, business development, risk reduction and research content of the future Norwegian initiative on bio-prospecting.
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