Norwegian Catapult develops a national infrastructure for innovation

The Norwegian Catapult programme is a governmental scheme designed to assist the establishment and development of catapult centres, with the purpose of accelerating the process from concept to market launch of the product. We got the chance to talk to Bjørn Arne Skogstad, program manager at Norwegian Catapult.


Why are the catapult centres important? What needs do they address?

– The Catapult centres assist companies in developing prototypes, offer expertise and equipment for testing, visualisation and simulation needed in order to turn innovative ideas into new products and services in an effective manner at a lower risk. By providing expertise, contacts and facilities in various technological areas, the catapult centres can assist companies in their strive to access new markets and captivate interest from other potential business partners. In total, companies from all Norway can take advantage of 800 industrial experts and equipment-technology to the value of close to two billion NOK. The Catapult centres have already given Norway a substantial new innovation capability. In the first 3 years more than 1 600 projects has taken advantage of this innovation capability.

In the context of the digital bioeconomy, what issues do you see as the most important going forward?

– Innovation is essential in all business sectors. In today’s competitive market, enterprises in all business sectors need to constantly develop new solutions and designs to be able to provide the most favourable, cutting-edge technologies and products. Standards and manufacturing methods are being increasingly challenged by global competition, rapid technological developments, and the demand for more sustainable solutions. The ability to quickly utilise new technology and methods is for this reason an inevitable measure to ensure the competitiveness of the enterprises.

A strong capability for innovation stimulates competitiveness. Access to facilities and expertise enhances this capability. Small and medium sized enterprises need an infrastructure for innovation. Norway needs a resilient manufacturing industry to safeguard today’s level of prosperity. There is a clear necessity of developing a modern infrastructure for innovation that supports the industry to produce competitive, high-quality products and services for the future. With major technological developments and greater focus on sustainability, the need for such a strategic infrastructure is explicit.

All Catapult centres offer test facilities of high relevance for the transition of industries in various sectors to a more digital and sustainable bioeconomic future. The five Catapult centres established so far are:

Ocean Innovation Norwegian Catapult centre: This catapult centre offers design, prototyping, testing and verification facilities for the maritime industry. The test facilities include i.a. state-of-the art land-based RASLab (Recirculation Aquaculture System), test facilities offering unique opportunities for the study and development of sustainable, land-based fish farming. The centre also includes AquaCloud, a big data platform for the fish farming industry involving data sharing services and a digital standard for the aquaculture industry. The platform addresses standardisation needs related to sensor data, fish health and environmental data.

DigiCat: The centre offers test facilities, expertise and networks for virtual prototyping and development of digital twins for all industries. In DigiCat’s facilities you can test and validate ideas, concepts and products in a digital world, faster, more efficiently and with less risk than in the physical world. Here you will literally have the opportunity to enter into your product. For example, Optimar – a global leader for automated fish processing systems, conducted the design review of a factory using DigiCat’s virtual prototyping facilities.

Manufacturing technology Norwegian catapult centre: The catapult centre offers help to further develop, simulate and test production lines prior to full-scale production in the companies’ own premises. The centre holds the expertise, the equipment and facilities to give companies increased competitiveness by offering facilities that can satisfy the companies demands on innovation, environmental friendliness and advanced production technology. The centre offers a line of minifactories  i.a. an Additive manufacturing minifactory, a digital manufacturing minifactory, an automated injection molding and winding facility, a metal forming and machining facility, a digital design lab and a lean lab 4.0, supporting companies’ demands on innovation, environmental friendliness and advances production technology.

Future Materials Norwegian catapult centre: This catapult centre addresses the increasing global need for advanced materials. Future materials possesses infrastructure, equipment and expertise in materials, powders and additive manufacturing, as well as the combinations of these. The centre offers expertise for the development and testing of both traditional and new, sustainable materials, offering the opportunity to do analysis of materials in a product, run tests, measurements and characterisations in the lab, including both small and large tests in existing equipment and up to full-scale pilot. The solutions cover metallic materials, composite materials and polymers/plastic materials. Separations and recycling is a strategic area.

The Sustainable Energy Catapult centre: This catapult centre helps businesses develop and test sustainable products and systems for the production, storage, distribution and management of energy. The centre have equipment, facilities and expertise in maritime and decentralised energy systems – both suited for testing of small individual components and larger system solutions. Strategic areas are Floating Offshore Wind, Multi Fuel systems for maritime sector including ammonia and hydrogen, Smart Grid solutions and Hydrogen technology.

Photo: Bjørn Arne Skogstad, program manager at Norwegian Catapult





The Biobord platform connects bioeconomy developers

Biobord is a transnational bioeconomy network that combines different types of bioeconomy actors, to a joint digital platform.


Illustration: Biobord platform

These actors includes researchers, academy representers, business actors, local policy makers, and students. We got to chance to meet Riikka Kumpulainen, linked to Biobord, and ask her a few questions about the platform.

How did it all start? Please tell us about the story of the Biobord platform.

– The story of the Biobord platform and network started in 2017 by a project called RDI2CluB, co-financed by the European development funding programme Interreg Baltic Sea Region. The project aimed to solve a need regarding the lack of innovation capacity in the rural Baltic Sea region. A network operating model in the transnational context, combined with digital operating practices were seen as a solution. Twelve partners of the project, formed, tested and launched a digital meeting place for the rural BSR bioeconomy actors – called Biobord.

What results have you accomplished as part of the projects linked to Biobord?

– Perhaps the most important result of the RDI2CluB was the formulated network, based on the consortium of the project. At the end of the project, the consortium wanted to safeguard the operation of the network by creating joint operating practices and a network agreement model. The development work of the platform and network continued in an extension stage project called ConnectedByBiobord, also co-financed by the European development fund programme Interreg Baltic Sea Region. The extension stage project brought new partners to the network and delivered joint agendas for the network. These joint agendas describe the thematic focus areas, and guide the operations of the network. Joint agendas are: sustainable food production, digital forestry and use of new technologies in the monitoring of wild animals.

How is the Biobord platform used today? What benefits does it offer?

– Currently the Biobord network is consisting of 13 members:

  • JAMK University of Applied Sciences, Finland
  • Regional Council of Central Finland
  • Paper Province, Sweden
  • Krinova Incubator and Science Park, Sweden
  • Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences
  • Tretorget, Norway
  • Świętokrzyskie marshal office, Poland
  • PRO Civis, Poland
  • Regional Science and Technology Park, Poland
  • Vidzeme Planning Region, Latvia
  • Institute for Environmental Solutions, Latvia
  • SEI Tallin, Estonia
  • Pärnumaa Development Centre, Estonia

The extension stage of the project ended in summer 2021, and now, Biobord is operating through bi-annual meetings and through the joint agendas. The essence of the platform and the network is to work together and create a more sustainable Baltic Sea region! Essentially, Biobord is a discussion forum for topics related to bioeconomy. Registering is free and anyone can take part of the open discussions.

Want to learn more? Watch the Biobord introduction video, or contact the network secretary: Riikka Kumpulainen +358 505759454 |

We are welcoming the Intelligent Organic Farming testbed to the network

Nordic Testbed Network is happy to introduce you to the Intelligent Organic Farming testbed, linked to the Institute for Environmental Solutions (IES) in Latvia, as a new member.


Photo: The Institute for Environmental Solutions

The testbed demonstrates a close cooperation between research and the industry for growing medicinal and aromatic plants, and production of high-value added plant-based products demanded in the largest pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and food manufacturers in Europe. We got the chance to talk to Inese Suija-Markova and Guna Dātava, linked to the testbed.

In the context of the digital bioeconomy, what issues do you see as the most important going forward?

– Digital bioeconomy has a big potential for all kinds of agriculture, including organic farming, which is one of the focus areas of our testbed. It involves the development of tools needed to effectively plan, manage, and optimise production and sales. It can also give farmers an in-depth knowledge of the specific conditions of their farms, like the soil, plant development and vitality, yield quality, waste reduction possibilities, etc.  However, the development and implementation of digital solutions requires active learning, co-creation, experimentation, and various support instruments, like funding for developing, upscaling, and promoting digital solutions.

What would you like to contribute to the network?

– The Institute for Environmental Solutions (IES) can share knowledge and expertise on research-industry cooperation in sustainable innovation development. IES’s Intelligent Organic Farming testbed is focused on medicinal and aromatic plants. The equipment, facilities, and accumulated expertise of IES help to research them in various dimensions – from field to lab, from seed preparation till harvesting, from rubber boots to space, from local to global. Thus, creating the products and services demanded in the largest pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and food manufacturers in Europe.

News from Drone Center Sweden

A lot has happened at Drone Center Sweden in the last year. We got to the chance to talk to Åke Sivertun, project coordinator at the centre.


What has been the main events and news at Drone Center Sweden in 2021?

– Let’s see… says Åke Sivertun, project coordinator at Drone Centre Sweden.

  • The Vinnova UAV testbed project in Västervik ended in December 2020 but Drone Center Sweden continued on commercial grounds with test of “the biggest UAV in the world”, the Thunder Wasp that can carry up to 1 500 kg of payload and which is now used by Danish Vestas for building and maintaining wind power mills, for forest fire fighting and heavy lifts.
  • The Swedish Transport Administration provided the testbed with continuous support in the project Positioning – Navigation – Communication for a further Unmanned Traffic Management system – UTM, [PNK4UTM] that will run to 2024 with support from Telia, Ericsson, Lantmäteriet/SWEPOS, Vattenfall, Södra skogsägarna, T2-data, Wabema, Västervik municipality, WASP/Wara PS.
  • The Large Wallenberg Autonomous Software and System Program (WASP) was performing demo weeks at the testbed.
  • Edit 3.0 hold three exercises with simulated train accidents on the railway in Västervik with the police, the rescue organisations, SOS-alarm, the Swedish Transport Administration, and Swedish Railway.
  • We installed the Altitude Angle Guardian UTM system in the testbed for evaluation and managed to do the EDIT 3.0 exercise at the same time as the Swedish Airforce was holding an exercise in the same airspace from the Västervik airfield only 500 meters away.
  • The Swedish Transport Agency announced the testbed as a geographical UAS-zone.
  • The final seminar for the EU project AFarCloud was organised, with drones and autonomous tractors for the agricultural sector.

What is your most pressing issue going forward?

– The most pressing issue is that it is very difficult to get money to develop the real challenges to get safe and secure operations with UAVs in a bigger scale and over larger distances. US, Korea, Japan and many other countries are taking UAVs much more seriously so the Nordic countries must come together to form regulations and support to develop these services.

What are your expectations for 2022?

The expectations for 2022 is that we together with the Norwegian UAV firm AVIANT can start long-haul flights with medical equipment, tests and vaccine with support of our systems for Cyber secure and safe operations based on Mobile networks and nRTK or other cyber safe positioning. We also want to finalise operations with support from both 4G LTE and 5G and perhaps be able to provide personal transports with UAVs.

We welcome three new testbeds to the network

AquaVIP, a three-year project, is led by Klaipeda Science and Technology Park, accompanied by University of Rostock, University of Gdańsk and Klaipeda University. The AquaVIP experiments will be focused on innovative solutions with the potential to be implemented into aquaculture business in the South Baltic area.

– We believe that innovative aquaculture will bring benefits to businesses in our region and society in general, as it provides healthy, secure and regionally produced high quality food. The use of innovative environmentally friendly production technologies will also open new, international markets, providing new jobs and blue-green growth in the South Baltic area, says Andrius Sutnikas, AquaVIP.

SFI Digital Food Quality (DigiFoods) is a research centre that will develop smart sensors for food quality assessment directly in the processing lines. The obtained information will be used for optimisation of processes and value chains, thereby making the food industry more efficient and sustainable.

– The most pressing issue is to develop smart sensors that can measure and digitise the most relevant food quality features, and use this information to optimise processes to reduce food waste and increase profit, says Jens Petter Wold, DigiFoods.

The autonomous robotic platform Latvijas iDārzs (Latvian i-Garden) aims to contribute to a sustainable development of the plant nursery sector, by enabling plant monitoring and tending functions as well as automation and digitalisation of the production process.

In order to ensure the applicability of the system in gardens and farms with high crop diversity, a systematic data collection and processing solution will be integrated in the Latvian i-Garden platform, which will use databases, machine learning and other artificial intelligence solutions to interpret the situation and make horticulture management decisions.


Organizing a testbed – join the virtual meeting

Digitalisation plays a vital role in the rapid development of the Nordic and Baltic bioeconomy. Access to cutting edge platforms for development, so-called testbeds, where new digital knowledge and technology can be developed is fundamental.

Managing a testbed is however a complex task. To facilitate the development of new and existing testbeds, the Nordic Testbed Network aims to unite and strengthen testbeds aimed at supporting the digital transformation of the bioeconomy.

On November 18 (2021) the Nordic Testbed Network arranges a virtual meeting to help dig into the following topics:


Welcoming our new testbed members, Blaize Denfeld (SITES), Anda Ikauniece (LIAE), Andrius Sutnikas (AquaVIP), Jens Petter Wold (DigiFoods), Anta Sparinska (Latvian i-Garden)

Keynote lecture: An inspiring example – Nordic Proof, Siri Stabel Olsen, Advisor Norway Health Tech and coordinator of Nordic Proof

Panel discussion: Organising a testbed, Thordur Reynisson, Senior Adviser and Head of Program Nordic Innovation, Jonas Engström, researcher RISE Research Institutes of Sweden and coordinator of the testbed for digitalised agriculture, Carmen Galindo Rodriguez, project manager EIT Food

Interactive session: all participants are invited to discuss and mingle

Sign up

Please sign up before November 4 at the latest – it’s fre of charge!

More information

Join us in welcoming two new testbeds to the network!

We are happy to introduce you to the Latvian Institute of Aquatic Ecology (LIAE) and SITES, the Swedish Infrastructure for Ecosystem Science, as new members in Nordic Testbed Network.  


The Latvian Institute of Aquatic Ecology (LIAE) located in Riga, is a public research institute, an agency of Daugavpils University, making use of digital solutions such as smart buoys, satellites and drones to collect and analyse data about the blue bioeconomy.

SITES, the Swedish Infrastructure for Ecosystem Science is a national infrastructure for terrestrial and limnological field research, aiming to promote high-quality research through long-term field measurements and field experiments, and by making data from these activities openly available.

We got the chance to ask Anda Ikauniece (LIAE), as well as Stefan Bertilsson and Blaize Denfeld (SITES) some questions.

In the context of the digital bioeconomy, what issues do you see as the most important going forward?

Anda Ikauniece, LIAE:
– In the marine digital bioeconomy the resource extraction could be the most complicated part. Therefore, the development of a true digital twin of the sea would be a way forward. At the sea, the conditions are often harsh and even the most robust systems do suffer from nature’s strength. So, the other alternative could be securing truly reliable data transfers – both via software and deployed equipment.

Stefan Bertilsson, SITES:
– Broadly, the development of knowledge-based best practices in forestry, agriculture and aquacultures, require research, open sharing of data and technical advancements. Innovation and socioeconomic development which recognise the connectivity of systems and optimise their use and management are of central importance. Agricultural practices should for example go beyond merely supplying food to a growing population, but also consider climate change resilience, biodiversity and other key ecosystem services. Similar considerations need to be made in long-term sustainable forestry efforts.

What would you like to contribute to the network?

Anda Ikauniece, LIAE:
– At present we can provide information on themes relevant for marine (digital) bioeconomy – mostly on environmental challenges and perspectives. We would be happy to provide a possibility to test new methodologies in marine conditions or in related “terrestrial-aquatic” systems.

Blaize Denfeld, SITES:
– SITES research stations, which span agricultural land, forests and inland waters across Sweden, provide a testbed where new digital knowledge and technology can be developed. SITES is a forum and platform for integrative ecosystem science bringing together academia and various stakeholders by offering an infrastructure for field measurements and manipulation experiments and access to openly available ecosystem data.

Digital Forest Academy – an initiative to advance the digitalisation of Swedish forestry

Through the Digital Forest Academy, Mistra Digital Forest has designed five courses aimed at companies in the forest industry. Topics include Digital innovation, Digital transformation, Digital entrepreneurship, Business analysis and AI for companies.


All courses are conducted on demand and tailored to the organisation’s unique needs. The purpose of the training is to enable forestry companies to benefit from digitalisation in their daily operations.

We asked Erik Willén, who is working with the initiative, what are the biggest challenges for organisations in the forest industry aiming to take the next step in their digitalisation process?

– Digitalisation opens the opportunity for new ways of working and to involve new competencies. It may lead to new business opportunities and additional value chains. It is however a process that requires time and resources that might be hard to allocate.

Could you give examples of what companies learn from these courses, what could be some key takeaways?

– One important finding is how different a management team thinks about digitalisation and new opportunities. If not digitalisation in your company is set by the management, how should the rest of the organisation behave?

Do you have any questions? Contact Erik Willén or Jonny Holmström.




Join the virtual meeting on data access, reliability and security

How to approach issues related to data access, reliability and security?

One way to approach this is by putting the questions into a context, making them more concrete. Another is to learn from what others have done, looking at initiatives carried out for example at European level.

In this online meeting you will have the opportunity to listen to speakers with experience as well as take part in discussions and to share with others. Welcome to join!

WHEN: June 3, 10.00-12.00 CET

WHERE: Online via Zoom, link will be sent out a couple of days before the meeting

FOCUS: Highlighting opportunities and best practices, as well as challenges with regard to data management

SIGN UP by 21th May
Participating at the event is free of any charge


▪ Reflections from a testbed – Data challenges in practice, Kjersti Balke Hveem, head of NIBIO’s Centre for Precision Agriculture

▪ Keynote lecture – Data management, Suzanne Dumouchel, Head of European Cooperation TGIR Huma-Num (CNRS), Partnerships Coordinator of OPERAS AISBL & Member of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Association Board of Directors

▪ Panel discussion – Critical data management questions, Ohad Graber-Soudry, commercial lawyer (advokat) X-officio, Tomas Klingström (Gigacow testbed), PhD Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Erik Willén (Auto2 testbed), Process Manager at Skogforsk

▪ Interactive session, all participants are invited to discuss predefined questions

More information

New report: does digital transformation affect gender inequalities?

“Redefining digital bioeconomy” is a new report reviewing how the digital transformation affects gender inequalities in the Nordic bioeconomy.

The bioeconomy is largely male dominated. Moving towards a digital bioeconomy, the sector is married with the even more heavily male dominated tech industry. This imposes the question of how the gender balance in the sector will be affected as the digital transformation permeates the bioeconomy. The newly published report “Redefining digital bioeconomy” sets out to answer this question by reviewing existing literature on the topic.

While there are plenty of research within the areas of bioeconomy, digitalisation and gender, literature combining all three areas is sparse. This literature review therefore studies the three areas in pairs (gender–bioeconomy/ digitalisation–bioeconomy/gender–digitalisation), with the aim of identifying and presenting the most frequent themes within these pairs. The findings show that:

1) The gender–bioeconomy literature focuses on understanding how the bioeconomy became a field with masculine connotations, symbolically as well as in practice;

2) Within the digitalisation–bioeconomy literature, the most prominent discussions include the use of data analytics, social sustainability, and challenges in adapting to the technologies;

3) The literature on gender–digitalisation raises stereotypes and the masculine construction of technology, education and labour market issues as well as gender equality.

By looking at the intersection of the three areas, analysing the commonalities in the identified themes, two major conclusions are drawn. Firstly, the momentum of the shift in workforce demand both in the bioeconomy and technology sectors could be used to actively redefine the stereotypical bioeconomy worker. Secondly, the need for female leadership, mentors and networks is widely emphasised as key to attract more women to the sectors.

With this as a backdrop, the report suggests and problematises five action points moving forward:

  • Increasing the number of female role models
  • Mentorship programs
  • Networks for young professionals and students
  • Further research in the intersection of digitalisation, bioeconomy, and gender
  • Tools and methods to incorporate this topic in bioeconomy-related education

The review constitutes the first step in the Bioequality project and will serve as a foundation for informed discussions and decisions for action. The project is funded by three organisations linked to the Nordic Council of Ministers, SNS, NKJ and NIKK, and runs until December 2021.