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A district for solving future challenges

Norway’s first innovation district is taking shape in Oslo and when completed, the capital will also host the country’s largest life science building.

Norway’s and especially Oslo’s life science sector is on the rise. Oslo is home to the largest hospital in the Nordic region, top international research groups in cancer and immunology and a strong focus on AI and close cooperation with leading research groups and institutes. The city also possesses an active start-up scene with Oslo Cancer Cluster, Startuplab, Aleap, Oslo University Hospital, SINTEF and the University of Oslo.

“In line with this progress, there are ambitious plans and investments in new facilities designed for cooperation and Nordic and international industry and investors are invited to build strong partnerships.”

In line with this progress, there are ambitious plans and investments in new facilities designed for cooperation and Nordic and international industry and investors are invited to build strong partnerships. As the country wants to develop a strong national life science industry, the new innovation district in Oslo will be a great accelerator and boost for the sector.

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The aim is to develop an attractive and vibrant urban area with flexibility and good mobility. Illustration: Bjarke Ingels Group/Team A-lab

 

Connect, share & create

The development of the innovation district began in the spring of 2019, when the city of Oslo adopted the strategy “Campus Oslo – Strategy for the development of the knowledge capital”. In the strategy, Oslo Science City was described as a key component in developing Oslo into an attractive knowledge capital and business-friendly ecosystem.

“The initial vision was to transform Oslo into a greener, warmer and more entrepreneurial city, and increase the ability to innovate in Norway, support long-term value creation and contribute to establishing thousands of new sustainable jobs.”

“The initial vision was to transform Oslo into a greener, warmer and more entrepreneurial city, and increase the ability to innovate in Norway, support long-term value creation and contribute to establishing thousands of new sustainable jobs,” describes Christine Wergeland Sørbye, CEO of Oslo Science City. ”The strategy was followed by a feasibility study to assess the physical framework and conditions for a holistic development of Oslo Science City as a world-leading innovation district.”

 

Christine Wergeland Sørbye, CEO, Oslo Science City. Photo: Øyvind Ganesh Eknes

 

The science city spans from Majorstuen via Marienlyst and Blindern to Gaustad and Ullevål stadium, as well as Campus Radiumhospitalet. This is Norway’s most knowledge-intensive area, with potential for innovation and new jobs in health and life sciences, digitalization, energy, climate, and sustainable solutions. The area hosts 300 startup companies, 7,500 researchers, 10,000 hospital employees and 30,000 students. The new district aims to create a physical space for Norway’s innovation community that includes an estimated 150,000 scientists, students and entrepreneurs, while also helping to contribute to the country’s transition to renewable energy.

The members of the science city initiative include the University of Oslo, which is among Europe’s most highly ranked universities within several disciplines, Oslo University Hospital, the largest hospital in the Nordic region, and SINTEF, the country’s leading research institute, together with the City of Oslo, Oslo Cancer Cluster, NGI, TØI, Oslo Science Park, investors and developers.

In the formation of the new district, the founders have been inspired by the international innovation districts Boston Kendall Square, London White City, Copenhagen Science City and Stockholm Science City. “These innovation districts were studied by Rissola and Haberleithner (2020) on behalf of the EU, and are good examples with clear commonalities that support successful innovation districts,” Wergeland Sørbye says.

The values of Oslo Science City are ’connect, share and create’, notes Wergeland Sørbye, and the role of Oslo Science City is to facilitate active collaboration between leading research environments, students, businesses and government entities, and to create a vibrant urban area where people meet to solve future challenges, create value and new sustainable jobs.

 

“To manifest the identity of Oslo Science City, the elements of the masterplan are tied together in a continuous loop of welcoming multi.functional buildings and spaces that open out towards the streets and create an engaging urban environment.” – Bjarke Ingels. Illustration: Bjarke Ingels Group/Team A-lab

 

Solving major challenges

For Norway’s life science actors, the innovation district will have several offerings, not least the new life science building at the University of Oslo, expected to be completed in 2026.

“The 100,00 square meters building is located at the heart of Oslo Science City, and will be a leading center for interdisciplinary research and teaching.”

 

The new life science building will contribute towards ensuring that Norway is internationally competitive in the area of life science. Illustration: Ratio Arkitekter

 

The 100,00 square meters building is located at the heart of Oslo Science City, and will be a leading center for interdisciplinary research and teaching. It will house large parts of the academic communities for life sciences, including the Norwegian Centre for Molecular Medicine and the Institutes of Chemistry and Pharmacy at the University of Oslo and the Division of Laboratory Medicine at Oslo University Hospital. The building will be designed for extensive cooperation with external actors and cooperation partners.

“Closer collaboration with health enterprises, local government and the business sector will enhance quality and relevance in research and education of the future labor force. Better exploitation of the innovation potential in research is another goal.”

“Extensive interdisciplinary cooperation will contribute to solving major challenges related to health,” says Per Morten Sandset, pro rector for innovation at the University of Oslo. “Closer collaboration with health enterprises, local government and the business sector will enhance quality and relevance in research and education of the future labor force. Better exploitation of the innovation potential in research is another goal.”

 

The new life science building and its modern equipment park will be a resource not only for the entire Oslo region but also nationally. Illustration: Ratio Arkitekter

 

The building and its modern equipment park will be a resource not only for the entire Oslo region but also nationally, Sandset adds. “It will contribute towards ensuring that Norway is internationally competitive in the area of life science.”

At Oslo University Hospital a 140,000 square meter, future-oriented stock of buildings are also planned. These buildings will unite regional and national functions, and at the same time serve as a local hospital for 200,000 inhabitants of Oslo. The buildings, expected to be completed 2030, will house highly specialized functions within patient care, research and education. The hospital is also currently developing the Radium Hospital further as a specialized cancer hospital with a new clinic building and a proton treatment unit, expected to be completed next year, says Sandset.

In addition, Oslo Cancer Cluster is planning to expand its existing innovation park by 7,000 square meters. The cluster is also planning a further expansion of 40,000-50,000 square meters designed for business partners, expected to be completed in 2023.

 

The Radium Hospital

 

A district with a green heart

When Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), together with Team A-lab developed the feasibility study for Oslo Science City, the ambition of “the world’s greenest innovation district” was formulated. This can be achieved through green corridors placed throughout the district, extensive tree planting, energy efficiency and nature based solutions.

“To manifest the identity of Oslo Science City, the elements of the masterplan are tied together in a continuous loop of welcoming multifunctional buildings and spaces that open out towards the streets and create an engaging urban environment.”

“Our design for Oslo Science City seeks to strengthen and develop the existing communities and neighborhoods, while expanding the area’s diversity through new spaces to live, work and share knowledge,” said Bjarke Ingles, founder of BIG, in a press release. “To manifest the identity of Oslo Science City, the elements of the masterplan are tied together in a continuous loop of welcoming multifunctional buildings and spaces that open out towards the streets and create an engaging urban environment.”

 

Per-Morten Sandset, pro rector for innovation, University of Oslo, and Christine Wergeland Sørbye, CEO, Oslo Science City. Photo: Øyvind Ganesh Eknes

 

Develop an attractive area

I asked Christine Wergeland Sørbye about how she and her colleagues will work towards further developing the innovation district and its offerings to the life science industry, and she mentioned for example facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration between the academic institutions within Oslo Science City and the private sector, attracting knowledge-intensive businesses and industry, attracting strategic investments for sustainable growth, and strengthening the ecosystem with open research and knowledge environments.

“In addition, we aim to further develop well established startup environments, further develop collaboration between relevant local, national and international actors, establish meeting places and conferences, and develop an attractive and vibrant urban area with flexibility and good mobility,” she states.

The Oslo Life Science Conference, planned for February 2023, is a great place to find out more!

Featured illustration: Bjarke Ingels Group/Team A-lab

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