A good research infrastructure comprises both of places to interact and equipment needed to carry out the research. It is important that the research infrastructure facilitates for the effective execution of the research in question. Arenas must be created which facilitate for research collaboration beyond the usual structures. The environments must have simple access to good equipment, and the structure should promote innovative cooperation between different expert groups.
The research infrastructure at UIA has developed well in recent years. The construction of Mecatronics Innovation Lab (MIL) at Campus Grimstad commenced in spring 2016, and MIL will open in the summer of 2017. The objective is to develop a world-leading centre for innovation, pilot testing and technology qualification within mechatronics and other closely related fields. The concept for the centre is the co-location of the industry’s R&D and innovation activities together with the university’s teaching and research. A central element here is the joint test and laboratory facilities for research, development and testing of new technology and new projects. In addition, the establishment of a health technology lab, I4Health, is being worked on. I4Health is conceived of as becoming a national testing and development centre for innovation within health and care services at Campus Grimstad. It is a goal that I4Health shall be a meeting point for innovation which will contribute to economic development and innovation in both private and public sectors. The Board has given the University Director the authorisation to work further with the plans for establishment.
It is suggested in the action plan for strategy 2016-2020 that a co-creation workshop shall be established during the course of the strategy period. This shall be a creative social arena in which students, lecturers, researchers and external parties meet across subject lines, departments and Faculties, and collaborate with regard to the challenges which exist in society. It is intended that this, in the long run, shall occupy a physical location. Almost all of the Faculties report that they lack offices, which results in PhD students often being placed apart from their academic environment. It has been decided that extra floors will be built in buildings F, G and J at Campus Kristiansand during the next few years.
Where do we want to be? – Vision for 2027
If UIA is to succeed with its ambitions concerning infrastructure development, we are dependent on active participation in national political processes. We must work actively towards the government and the Research Council in order to achieve our objectives. It is therefore completely essential that, by 2027 (and preferably by 2020), UIA will have developed a holistic, long-term plan for infrastructure development. This should not only concern itself with UIA’s needs within the campuses, but also which infrastructure challenges we must solve so that we can collaborate better with different regional bodies.
In the long-term planning, we should consider how we are to collaborate and utilise private market operators and what opportunities we have to make use of the research infrastructure that others have, or to invite them to us. Campus Grimstad and Campus Kristiansand have two different contracting builders. How can we best cooperate with these in order to achieve a development that serves the interests of everybody?
Physical infrastructure: By 2027, UIA will have developed a holistic long-term plan for infrastructure development. The MIL lab and the I4Health lab are well established and used actively both by UIA, the region, and international collaborative partners. The co-creation workshop has become established as a networking centre in the region, and is important in UIA’s collaboration with the region on a project level. The workshop has also been important in the recruitment of students to research projects, which is a widespread practice at UIA. The Faculties have larger buildings which have provided the opportunity for better research and international collaboration. In particular, centre-based activities have been facilitated, with arenas suitable for environments to interact across Faculty lines.
Gimlemoen’s recreational areas are, to a great extent, utilised well, and are suitable for both sports, concerts and research dissemination in new ways. The Nature Museum serves as an integrated part of UIA where there is a high level of dissemination activities aimed at children and youth. Increased internationalisation has also brought with it possibilities for establishing an international guest house.
UIA has utilised resources in the region in other ways, and uses it as a “laboratory” in the sense that access is provided to public services (community care, hospitals etc.). The development of Helsebyen (“Health Town”) Eg is a central component of this, and the collaborative solutions involved in join laboratories is established.
Technical infrastructure and databases: The development of research activity brings with it new needs, such as, for example, data processing and storage capacity, as well as new requirements for data analysis. The development of tools for “deep learning” or “machine learning” happen so quickly that it is quite possible that researchers from almost all disciplines will come to require access to both high data storage capacities and integrated machine learning applications for meeting the data analysis needs of the future. Access to databases and registry data is an important factor for some research environments. With good long-term planning and the willingness to prioritise environments undergoing growth, it has been possible to facilitate for needs which support the quality of research.
UIA has developed an overview of available labs and equipment, which ensures that their utilisation is as effective as possible. UIA has also facilitated for activity across Faculty lines to a greater extent than has previously been the case.
What must be done to arrive at this stage? – Measures for the years to come
Active political work is carried out at a national level.
The needs for infrastructure are assessed and a holistic long-term plan for infrastructure is to be developed.
An overview of labs and equipment, and their availability – i.e. reservation/ordering options – is to be drawn up.
Areas which can be used as joint laboratories/centres for interaction are to be identified.
Good contacts are to be established with the public sector and regional trade and industry for collaboration regarding regional laboratories.
There should be collaboration with the public sector and regional trade and industry in connection with MIL and I4Health.
A plan is to be drawn up detailing how conferences and other large-scale arrangements can be held.
The use of the recreational areas at Gimlemoen is to be planned.
A plan for the Nature Museum and dissemination to children and youth is to be drawn up.