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– We must be the municipality for academia and entrepreneurs!

Managing director Preben Strøm and the mayor of Bærum municipality Lisbeth Hammer Krog discussing the possibility of making Fornebu a competence center. Foto:Linea Bancel
By Linea Bancel|Published 14 November 2021|Category: News

The interaction and collaboration between academia, residents, businesses, and Bærum municipality, is the way towards a zero-emission Fornebu in 2027. But to make it there a key element is still missing – a hub for expertise and knowledge, says managing director Preben Strøm.

– Experience shows that companies that are co-located contribute to innovation and growth through precisely knowledge sharing and networks, says the mayor of Bærum municipality Lisbeth Hammer Krog.

Green and urban

This week we invited key interests from Bærum municipality and some of the companies located – and soon to be located here – to our fifth floor at Fornebu for a kickoff for the Fornebu27 project.

Fornebu is to be transformed into a future-oriented, green, and urban area. Bærum’s climate strategy aims for the former airport area to be established as a zero-emission area by 2027. The ambitions will require new thinking in cooperation, planning, construction, and use of buildings and urban areas.

Before the program began the participants enjoyed the possibility to mingle again. Foto: Linea Bancel

Missing knowledge and competence

How to build future ecosystems, why Bærum is an attractive place to work and our cluster’s role in Bærum were some of the topics discussed during the kickoff. The topics were intertwined by talking about making both existing and new companies collaborate more, building better infrastructure, growing businesses, and building competence.

– The logic of everything we do is expertise and it’s the supply of new expertise – but that’s where we hear from people in our cluster have the most concern – they are worried that there will be a shortage or lack of the right competence in the future, says managing director of Energy Valley Preben Strøm.

Strøm believes that an institution established either in Bærum municipality or – better – at Fornebu would complete Energy Valleys ecosystem and contribute towards the goal of a zero-emission Fornebu in 2027.

– We will start debating loudly how we can get a hub either in collaboration with NTNU or another institution– here in this region that can help educate the people who will deliver the technology the world needs in the future, says Strøm.

Krog agrees and as the other participants from Bærum Municipality say – they are already talking with NTNU and say that they are also ready to discuss the topic further with other interested parties.

Changing the narrative

The competence of the future was also the topic when Sindre Østgård, managing director at Sjø Fornebu AS and partner of We Are Human presented their plans for a sea center with a focus on education, innovation, climate, and the blue economy.

–  It is the young people who will be the users of this place the longest. When we invite the young people in, it becomes clear what they really want – Nikolai, for example, wants us to recreate a fjord full of fish. I think it is our responsibility to contribute to this if we are to pursue development. It’s about taking technology and innovation and making them testable and getting them to market.

The goal is to develop the dock into a place that will strengthen what is already here, says Østgård. There is already a lot of competence- and capital clusters here – and they want to be a part of this as well as focusing on the bigger picture that we see from the dock – saving the Oslo fjord.

– We are constantly told that the fjord that is right outside here is deadly – and it is unfortunately almost true – but not entirely true – there is a lot of life left to save and there is a lot we can do to change this narrative – not at least for our kids who, to put it mildly, get upset and depressed by a picture where we have ruined everything. We are on guard – we can change this.

Sindre Østgård, Managing Director of Sjø Fornebu AS and partner in We Are Human. Foto: Linea Bancel

Better infrastructure makes people interact 

– Fornebu currently consists of mainly larger solitary buildings that are not naturally connected in an area plan making business networking and knowledge sharing within the cluster difficult. This is sad and means the Fornebu business cluster does not reach its full potential and critical research and innovation does not take place, says CEO of Aker Property Group Torstein Storækre.

Aker is trying to address this at Akerkvartalet by creating attractive social zones, meeting spaces, and office layouts that encourage networking and knowledge sharing. The integration of Aker Tech House under construction with the rest of Akerkvartalet is an important stepping stone in this respect. During the kickoff, Storækre spoke about Aker’s history and how how to build the ecosystem of the future.

– We also have to include the other workspaces at Fornebu into one unified campus and working zone if we are to succeed in making Fornebu special. I believe the municipality and the developers at Fornebu have a big responsibility to make this happen over the next 10 years.

The future calls for deep collaboration 

Fornebu will be a test arena for innovation, pilots, and collaboration, where new business models are created, and new technologies and solutions are developed and used. At Fornebu, residents, businesses, the municipality, and academia will together show what is possible to achieve.

– I tend to say that the future is interdisciplinary and calls for deep collaboration – and this interdisciplinarity it is so important! It is through seeing each other across the board we achieve good results. We must have the courage and strength to carry development along the dimensions – economy, social sustainability, and climate. We will create good growth conditions and be an attractive meeting place for both knowledge and competence and not least innovation, says Krog and adds:

– This can only happen by being a community and collaborating – by engaging each other and motivating each other and building clusters.

Mayor of Bærum municipality Lisbeth Hammer Krog. Foto: Linea Bancel