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Collaboration between research and industry in Scandinavia’s largest bioindustrial cluster will strengthen industry in Denmark

Collaboration between research and industry in Scandinavia’s largest bioindustrial cluster will strengthen industry in Denmark

23 Jun 2020

Kalundborg is Scandinavia’s largest bioindustrial cluster, internationally recognized for industrial sustainability and circular production and home to more than 5,000 industrial workplaces across several of Denmark’s largest companies.

However, the cluster is challenged by a limited influx of newly trained specialists and a lack of research infrastructure. Kalundborg’s location, an hour’s drive from Odense and Copenhagen, can be a barrier that creates difficulty in attracting and retaining a qualified workforce.

A new education and research programme will help to change this situation. It will attract new students and add innovation strength and sustainable solutions to specific business problems, thereby strengthening the industry 4.0 transformation and green transformation in Denmark’s regions.

Local career paths
“The initiative is fantastic news for Kalundborg. More students will have the opportunity to carry out industry-relevant research in collaboration with the industrial actors, and the companies will have access to a local research community for the first time. The students will also establish ties with companies and the area, and we hope that this will create relationships and highlight local career paths so that more people want to stay. This initiative will also help to further reinforce the position of Kalundborg as a municipality specializing in education,” says Martin Damm, Mayor, Municipality of Kalundborg.

The physical hub of the initiative is Biomanufacturing Project House (BPH), run by Absalon University College, which already offers a BSc programme in engineering in Kalundborg. From there, students from universities in Denmark and abroad will carry out applied research in bioproduction, circular production, industry 4.0 and related areas in collaboration with local industrial actors. The plan is to complete 75 MSc projects in the first project period, which runs from 2021, when construction begins, to 2026. The first students will begin their project work in early 2022.

“We will act as a matchmaker between industry and universities and support the development of specific and relevant research projects for the students. In addition, industry will be able to collaborate on and receive support for research at BPH. The professional approach will reflect the industrial sustainability that characterizes Kalundborg, and BPH will therefore establish close ties with industry to develop project ideas and support a lasting commitment from industry and universities,” says Camilla Wang, Rector, Absalon University College.

An even more attractive environment
About 15 projects will be available to the students each year. The Technical University of Denmark, the University of Southern Denmark, the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University and Aalborg University will ensure a broad recruitment base. Students will be offered scholarships for a 5- to 12-month stay in Kalundborg with accommodation and access to the BPH research facilities and will remain affiliated with the educational institution at which they originally enrolled for an MSc programme.

“The new infrastructure is an excellent first step towards making the Kalundborg environment even more attractive to students and researchers. Knowledge from the students’ home institutions combined with insight from industrial practice have potential for innovation, and the initiative will open new opportunities for our students and researchers. We already have a good working relationship with industry in Kalundborg, and we welcome the fact that even better conditions are being created that can further strengthen this collaboration, which is a very good starting-point for the initiative to be successful,” says Bjarke Bak Christensen, Head, Department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine, Technical University of Denmark.

Grants totalling DKK 120 million
Several actors are contributing a total of DKK 120 million to the project. The Novo Nordisk Foundation is awarding DKK 65 million to fund equipment, personnel and the operation of BPH in the initial project period.

“We want to contribute to developing collaboration between industry and universities. This is important for education and for both basic and applied research. To this end, the ambition is to further develop Kalundborg as a leading bioindustrial hub, and an education and research programme will make a significant contribution. Biotechnology is developing rapidly, and it offers many opportunities to further the green transformation. We expect the initiative to benefit both students and businesses,” says Claus Felby, Senior Vice President, Biotech, Novo Nordisk Foundation.

BPH will also host the Secretariat of Kalundborg Symbiosis, a partnership between 11 public and private companies that employ research specialists in circular industrial production. They will complement the staff at BPH and inspire students on the sustainability themes of the future.

Novo Nordisk A/S, which has its largest plant in Kalundborg, sees great potential in BPH and the strengthened collaboration with universities and talented researchers and students in Denmark and abroad.

“Kalundborg has the potential to become a world-leading hub in biotechnology education, research and innovation, and BPH is an important element in training and developing talent locally. In addition, the initiative creates a favourable framework for research collaboration focusing on developing innovative and sustainable production technologies. The initiative will thus become a lever for technological development and growth not only for Novo Nordisk A/S and the other industrial activities in Kalundborg but also for industry in Denmark as a whole,” says Henrik Wulff, Executive Vice President, Product Supply, Quality & IT, Novo Nordisk A/S.

Broad support for the project
Novo Nordisk A/S, which is represented on the Board of Directors of Kalundborg Symbiosis, will make projects available to students and is contributing up to DKK 50 million, which is earmarked to lease the building in which BPH will be located. In addition, Novozymes A/S will co-fund the first project period with up to DKK 5 million and will also be represented on the Board of Directors alongside Equinor Refining Denmark A/S, Denmark’s largest oil refinery, and others. Other local companies will be invited to join an external advisory board.

“The active participation and the many project proposals illustrate the broad interest across industry in Kalundborg. We know from experience that innovative students contribute to our business, so we look forward to collaborating on projects that meet industry needs for the green transition and industry 4.0. In addition, I hope that more students will make a career in one of Kalundborg’s companies,” says Sølvi Storsæter Bjørgum, Vice President, Equinor Refining Denmark A/S.

“Novozymes sees great value in a research infrastructure in Kalundborg that enables companies to develop technologies for industry 4.0. We look forward to working closely with BPH on projects that meet the needs of industry in the coming years,” says Jesper Haugaard, Vice President, Novozymes A/S.

AP Ejendomme A/S will construct and own the building in which BPH will be located.

“Many positive forces are working together to strengthen the educational and research environment in Kalundborg. We therefore anticipate that Campus Kalundborg, where the BPH building will be located next to Absalon University College’s future campus building, will be an exciting development in the coming years. We want to take part in this development, and we are proud to be part of an ambitious project that works to create the best possible framework for students,” says Peter Olsson, Managing Director, AP Ejendomme A/S.

When the first students start to work on their projects at BPH in early 2022, they will be integrated into a local educational environment that is developing rapidly and already comprises 300–400 students.

Further information

Municipality of Kalundborg: Mads Damkjær Nielsen, Head of Communications, +45 2388 6223, Mads.Damkjaer@kalundborg.dk

Absalon University College: Klaus Kristensen, Press Officer, +45 7248 2727, klkr@pha.dk

Technical University of Denmark: Mette Haagen Marcussen, Head of Communications, +45 2371 2310, mehma@dtu.dk

Novo Nordisk Foundation: Anders Rosendahl, Senior Communications Partner, +45 4048 3766, aro@novo.dk

Novo Nordisk A/S: Stine Gry Roland, Senior Manager, Communications & Public Affairs, +45 3075 0567, stpg@novonordisk.com

Equinor Refining Denmark A/S: Charlotte Balslev, Head of Communications, +45 4036 0420, dcha@equinor.com

Novozymes A/S: René Tronborg, Corporate Press Manager, +45 3077 2274, retr@novozymes.com

AP Ejendomme A/S: Peter Olsson, Managing Director, pol@appension.dk