Professor Christoph Trattner, Head of Bergen’s new Media Futures research centre. Media Futures is one of six Centres for Research-Driven Innovation to be established in the city. Photo © University of Bergen.

Bergen gains SIX new research centres

A crop of new research centres in Bergen will help to make our oceans smarter, support better mental health, and even combat fake news.

The centres are part of a programme run by the Research Council of Norway, which aims to match researchers with businesses in order to drive innovation.

Dag Rune Olsen, Rector at the University of Bergen, said that it was “very pleasing to see that Bergen has distinguished itself with six new centres.”

“This research will be used for value creation and regeneration in society, and as a knowledge institution, the University of Bergen will be central to this work.”

In total, Norway’s Research Council will be funding 22 new Centres for Research-Driven Innovation (SFI) around the country.

Each centre will involve a partnership of research institutions and private companies, who will receive NOK 12 million in funding per year for a maximum of eight years.

Inger Graves, pictured in red, believes that gathering good data will be critical for Norway’s ocean industries in future. Her company Aanderaa is part of the new SFI SmartOcean research centre, which aims to improve the way data is shared through underwater networks. 

Making our oceans smarter

Smart Ocean, overseen by the University of Bergen, was one of six groups in Bergen to be awarded status as a Centre for Research-Driven Innovation (SFI).

The centre will seek to improve underwater networks, in order to help companies in the ocean industries to make use of big data.

“We have very good sensors, but it is still difficult to transfer large amounts of data from the deep sea to the surface,” says Inger Graves from Aanderaa, one of the companies that is participating in the SFI Smart Ocean.

As Graves explained to us in a recent interview, “We need the right data in order to measure the impact we are having on our seas and oceans – and to ensure we are growing in a sustainable way.”

“There isn’t a single company that has the answer here. If we are going to solve this, we are going to need to work together.”

Alongside the University of Bergen and Aanderaa, the SFI Smart Ocean includes research institutions such as the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, NORCE, the Institute of Marine Research, and the Nansen Center.

These are joined by industry partners including Aker Solutions, Kongsberg Maritime, Octio Environmental, Tampnet, Halfwave Subsea, Metas and Bouvet.

The head of SFI Media Futures, Christoph Trattner, takes a stroll with a robot at Media City Bergen together with colleague Duc-Tien. Trattner has gathered a strong team of researchers, technology partners and media producers whose ambition is to find solutions to the complex challenges facing the media sector. Photo © Hedvig Idås, University of Bergen

Battling against fake news

The University of Bergen will also be leading another Centre for Research-Driven Innovation, which will be focused on exploring the media technology of the future.

Innovations such as virtual reality, augmented reality and AI-driven journalism are creating new opportunities, but also new pitfalls for our societies.

The SFI MediaFutures will bring together academics and industry leaders, to develop responsible media technology. This could, for example, include methods for ensuring that we are not being manipulated or exposed to fake news.  

Christoph Trattner, head of MediaFutures, stresses the value of having gathered key players in the sector in the application.

“With MediaFutures we fulfil the visions behind Media City Bergen. We aim to strengthen the collaboration between its partners and make the cluster a knowledge cluster as well as a producer of media content and media technology,” he says.

“Our team also includes prestigious international partners, and we certainly aim to make an impact beyond national borders. Today’s media consumers certainly see no such borders.”

The centre will be based in the Media City Bergen hub, and will include the following research institutions: the University of Oslo, the University of Stavanger, NORCE, VU Amsterdam, the Open University UK, and the University of Oxford.

The group will also contain industry partners including the national broadcasters NRK and TV2, as well as the media house Schibsted.

Greater Bergen – a research and development hotspot

Alongside the SmartOcean and MediaFutures, four other groups in Bergen were awarded SFI-status by the Research Council of Norway:

  • Climate Futures: Run by NORCE, this centre will develop new solutions for predicting and managing climate risks from 10 days to 10 years into the future.
  • DigiWells: This centre overseen by NORCE will seek to improve the oil well‑drilling process on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, helping to lower carbon emissions and make operations more efficient.  
  • CRIMAC: This initiative led by the Institute for Marine Research will develop better acoustic tools for finding and measuring fish populations at sea.
  • Center for Mobile Mental Health: Led by the Bergen Hospital Trust, this centre aims to examine how digital services can improve people’s mental health.

All in all, these six new research centres add to Greater Bergen’s position as the primary hotspot for research and development in western Norway.

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