Prime minister Erna Solberg, Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Søviknes, acting Managing Director at NIFES Gro-Ingunn Hemre, Managing Director at IMR Sissel Rogne and Director of the Directorate of Fisheries, Liv Holmefjord at the press conference. The Norwegian government announced the co-location in a new building of the soon-to-be-merged Institute of Marine Research, NIFES, and the Directorate of Fisheries. Foto: Havforskningsinstituttet

Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Søviknes announced on Sunday that the Government has said yes to a new building for the purpose of co-locating the soon-to-be-merged Institute of Marine Research and NIFES, and the Directorate of Fisheries.

‘The Government is very pleased to announce this news today, which is important for Bergen, but also very important for Norway,’ says regPrime Minister Erna Solberg.

The Prime Minister continued by saying that Bergen has some of Norway’s most outstanding marine research and fishery research communities. A concept evaluation and external quality assurance assessment were carried out in connection with the co-location of Bergen’s marine R&D institutes.

‘The Government believes that the sea will become one of Norway’s most important assets in the time ahead, and the marine centre will be Norway’s, and hopefully one of the world’s, strongest marine research and administration communities,’ says the Prime Minister.

Marine focus is important

‘This is an important day for us. We will really be able to reap the benefits of the merger when we are located under the same roof,’ says Managing Director of the Institute of Marine Research Sissel Rogne.

The Institute of Marine Research (IMR) will be merged with the National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES) from 1 January 2018. On Friday, it was announced that the new merger will be named the Institute of Marine Research. Rogne believes that a shorter distance to the Directorate of Fisheries will also be an advantage.

‘These are two administrative institutions that can achieve a smoother and better collaboration. We have different roles and responsibilities, but we work together in some areas, such as information, IT and data flow, and co-location can make this cooperation better and more effective,’ says the managing director of IMR.

She concludes that the Government is living up to its ambitions in relation to a marine focus.

‘Since the sea is so vital to Norway and the Government has such ambitious goals, I hope that there’ll be wind in the sails as regards bringing about the co-location,’ says Sissel Rogne.

Acting Director General of NIFES Gro-Ingunn Hemre says that Bergen is a marine powerhouse, and the co-location’s realisation will put the city in an even stronger position.

‘Food from the sea is a unique source of nutrients that are needed by the increasing global population. How the sea can provide us with essential nutrients for the health of present and future generations is critical knowledge. We therefore need updated knowledge on the role of seafood in food security and nutrition.

Director General of Fisheries Liv Holmefjord believes that this will be an important advance for the future.

‘This is wonderful news. There is potential for increasing value creation based on the fantastic marine and coastal resources, and for this, it is necessary to have solid knowledge and good administration. We are looking forward to continuing the cooperation with IMR and NIFES.

The co-location assessment process

Several assessments have been carried out that have looked at options for uniting the marine research communities in Bergen that are affiliated to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries under one roof. Building a new building would be of such a cost that the Ministry of Finance demanded an external quality assurance assessment. A concept evaluation was therefore carried out that considered everything from continuing largely in line with the current arrangement to building a new shared building for NIFES, IMR and the Directorate of Fisheries.

‘An overall evaluation of financial and non-financial consequences shows that Alternative 3b – a new building for the Institute of Marine Research, NIFES and the Directorate of Fisheries – is the preferred alternative for a future solution,’ is the conclusion of the concept evaluation presented at the start of the year, which was long before NIFES and IMR’s merger was clarified.

After that, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries sent the concept evaluation on to an external quality assurance assessment. The Government’s decision was announced today.

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