After a slow start of the year, Ullrigg Drilling and Well Centre is now seeing a high level of activity partly due to major industrial projects. They have also been at the forefront in the establishment of a large new Demo2000 project in automated drilling. Here, together with industry and technology suppliers, they will develop and test out new solutions for a fully automated drilling process based on robotisation and new control systems.
IRIS Energy has also been very successful this year in establishing industrial research projects, especially in the fields of reservoir and well modelling. Many of these projects are based on digitisation, either in the form of new models or simulations of actual processes. This expertise is now also used in new areas. Among other things, along with partners, IRIS has established a collaborative effort in which such expertise related to the petroleum industry that is developed is used in order to solve complex issues within the field of medical research. The collaborative effort is called “Norway Pumps & Pipes” and has attracted significant professional interest from those working the field plus political interest. This collaborative effort has led to 8 new project ideas so far, all of which have received technical and financial support during the start-up phase.
Within the field of Bioeconomics, IRIS has several initiatives. Industrial fermentation, also referred to as “bioprocessing,” is a field we have had in the portfolio for quite a few years, but which in 2016 has been renewed via a new commitment to research and planning of new research infrastructures. The potential here lies in contributing to a new industry that provide a basis of support for the nation’s need for “green restructuring.” Another important contribution here is the establishment of a Nordic Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Aquatic Production (SUREAQUA), a centre with a high degree of business participation, which is led by IRIS Environment as project manager.
The Social Science research at IRIS focuses on i.a. innovation research where participation in the “Smart Cities” initiative is a result of this. The department’s work in business research is still receiving much attention, and our studies in political decisions are often used and are often widely discussed in the media. IRIS Social Science has also established close relationships with other social science institutes, something which now leads to more committed cooperation and alliances.
The commercialisation of research from IRIS has always been strong in our organisation. Ideas from own researchers and results from research projects form the basis for this activity. In 2016, it worked well and systematically with many such business opportunities, and at the end of the year we saw that we were achieving very good results from this work. As we sold our stake in the company Calysta for over NOK 40 million, we have funds that can now be brought back the organisation in order to establish a situation where even more research can take place and additional efforts concerning commercialisation from IRIS can be made.
During the year, our owners, the Rogaland Research Foundation and the University of Stavanger, have held talks with the owners of similar research institutes and centres in Bergen and in Agder. Out of that, a memorandum of understanding was reached where the owners aim to establish a new joint research in southern and western Norway. This process is closely followed by IRIS and the other research institutes, both to provide good advice along the way and to provide the proper factual basis in the process that has been commenced. This process can lead to the establishment of the second largest research institute in Norway, only surpassed by SINTEF in size. It will be exciting to see what we will be able to write about this in the 2017 Annual Report.
Ole Ringdal, CEO