Quick recap of the Digital Life Conference 2021

Centre for Digital Life Norway would like to thank everyone that participated in the 2021 Digital Life Conference at Oslo Science Park in November! The conference had excellent talks on biotechnology and intellectual property rights, and important discussions about transdisciplinarity following the launch of the whitepaper “Transdisciplinarity in Digital Life Norway”.

Panel debate at the DLN 2021 conference 

Know-how workshop on intellectual property rights in digital biotech

The conference kicked off with a know-how workshop on intellectual property rights in digital biotech. The goal of the workshop was to make researchers ask them themselves “what is the value that you have created in your work and what strategy should you choose to manage your intellectual property rights (IPR)?” The aim was to get researchers to take ownership of their processes and values and start to think about intellectual property from early on in their projects. 


Andreas Werner i Onsagers
Patent attorney from Onsagers, Andreas Werner

The Norwegian intellectual property law firm, Onsagers, opened the workshop with a talk on “Linking Intellectual Property to Business”. Patent attorney from Onsagers, Andreas Werner, walked the participants through the process of patenting intellectual property, investor checklists and other good advice on what you as a researcher should think about when you are filing a patent.  

European Patent Attorney from Onsagers, Kari Simonsen

European Patent Attorney from Onsagers, Kari Simonsen, continued the talk by going deeper into the material and provided several examples of intellectual property cases she had been involved with in her 20 years of experience with intellectual property rights.  




Barbro E. Sæther from the Norwegian Industrial Property Office (NIPO)


After Onsagers had shared their knowledge and experience, senior patent examiner, Barbro E. Sæther from the Norwegian Industrial Property Office (NIPO), shared insights and tools on how you can make your own intellectual property strategy - “A successful strategy is an informed strategy”, Sæther stated and provided guidance on what information that can be gathered from the patent literature and why you as a researcher need this information when filing a patent application.

Quality 1:1 meetings

The workshop continued after the talks with group work and gave Digital Life Norway member projects an opportunity to have quality 1:1 meetings with Onsagers and NIPO.  

Material from the Know-How Workshop (Feide-login)

Please follow this link to get access to a complete video recording for the workshop and the presentation materials. 





Digital Life 2021: Plenary event 

Centre manager at Centre for Digital Life Norway, Kam Sripada

After the workshop and food and beverages, it was time for the plenary event that focussed on how we can strengthen Norwegian biotechnology.  

Centre manager at Centre for Digital Life Norway, Kam Sripada, welcomed all the participants that had met up at Oslo Science Park and all the digital attendees. Sripada also announced that five new projects have become part of the Centre and provided information on how other projects can apply for membership going forward.

Please apply for Digital Life Norway project membership here. 





Plenary event - key speakers

The first talk, “Towards causual learning at genome scale” was held by Sach Mukherjee, PhD, Director of Research in Machine Learning for Biomedicine at the MRC Biostatistics Unit, University of Cambridge and Head of Statistics and Machine Learning at the DZNE, one of Germany's major biomedical institutions. 

Mukherjee’s work has clearly shown the power of machine learning and statistics to solve fundamental challenges in biomedicine.  


After an insightful Q&A session with Sach Mukherjee it was time for the next talk from the The European Commission. 


June Lowery-Kingston, Head of Unit for Accessibility, Multilingualism, Safer Internet at DG CNECT in the European Commission presented the Gender Equality strategy 2020-2025. The strategy presented policy objectives and actions to make significant progress by 2025 towards a gender-equal Europe.  

Lowery-Kingston said the goal is a Union where women and men, girls and boys, in all their diversity, are free to pursue their chosen path in life, have equal opportunities to thrive, and can equally participate in and lead our European society.  In academia, as for many other fields, women are overrepresented in lower positions, but underrepresented in higher positions, Lowery-Kingston said.

Read an article on this subject from the Research Council of Norway here (in Norwegian).


The third talk of the evening “From metagenomes to therapeutics: the human microbiome”, was by Julia Oh, PhD, Associate Professor, The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine.  

Oh's lab seeks to use diverse technologies like genomics, synthetic biology, and genome engineering to target and manipulate the microbiota for therapeutic purposes. 


Oh presented the latest development in her field with regard to omics methods, results from her research and how she foresees that patients will benefit from the research. The focuses of her lab are skin disease and aging, but they also have an extensive program with areas in skin cancer, COVID-19, ME/CFS, immunotherapy response, and others.  In her talk she focused mainly on the first two areas but was open for questions about the other areas as well in the Q&A after her talk.  


Digital Life: Trans or Straight? – launch of white paper on transdisciplinarity with panel debate 


The Centre for Digital Life Norway was formed by the Research Council of Norway in 2016 to transform Norwegian biotechnology into "transdisciplinarity". The next talk followed by a panel debate asked therefore the questions “what does this mean, what has been achieved and what has been learnt so far?” 

In order to tune everyone in and give panelist and participants a good foundation on the topics before the debate, Maria Hesjedal presented the findings from the recent white paper on transdisciplinarity in Digital Life Norway (DLN). 

Download the white paper here


The white paper was developed by Hesjedal who's a PhD student at the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, Centre for Technology and Society at NTNU and part of the Junior resource group in DLN, and Roger Strand - a member of the DLN expert task force for NTNU and Professor at the University in Bergen (UiB). 


Hesjedal begun by providing some context and referred back to the original aim of the Digital Life initiative that was to “create economic, societal and environmental value in Norway from biotechnological research and innovation, by encouraging transdisciplinary research”. The research question for the white paper was: What does transdisciplinarity mean in DLN?  



Hesjedal presenterer
Maria Hesjedal presented the findings from the recent DLN white paper on transdisciplinary. 

After presenting definitions of “transdisciplinarity” and what separates it from terms like “multidisciplinarity”, “interdisciplinarity” and “convergence”, Hesjedal looked closer at how the understanding of the word “transdisciplinarity” was perceived in DLN, and presented three distinct understandings based on interviews done in the centre. These were 1) transdisciplinarity as collaboration within the natural sciences, 2) transdisciplinarity as collaboration with disciplines far from your own, and 3) transdisciplinarity as "something more", including also non-academic actors.

Hesjedal said that most DLN events and activities analysed in the white paper could be considered interdisciplinary initiatives that aimed at increasing collaboration between the scientists in the centre. She argued that while the centre has been quite successful in facilitating such collaboration, she questioned the use of the term transdisciplinarity to describe such efforts, as they are not in line with the scholarly definitions of “transdisciplinarity”.


Concluding the talk, Hesjedal presented four conditional recommendations: 

  1. Increase conceptual awareness. Distinguish between inter- and transdisciplinary  

  1. Meet the particular challenges of interdisciplinary research projects, notably for early-career researchers   

  1. Decide on the meaning and role of transdisciplinarity in DLN

  1. To develop transdisciplinarity, required expertise is likely to be called for, as well as more non-academic actors, not merely as stakeholders but as knowledge holders


You can watch Maria Hesjedal's full presentation in the video below :



Panel debate 

Debatt i forskningsparken
Roger Strand (to the right) moderated the panel debate

Now that the white paper had been launched, it was time for panel debate. Moderator Professor Roger Strand welcomed the panelists to discuss the findings from the white paper and transdisciplinarity in Digital Life Norway.

From the left: Anne Kjersti Fahlvik, Marianne Fyhn, Trygve Brautaset, Jostein Dalland








The panel: 

  • Anne Kjersti Fahlvik, Executive Director - Business development and innovation, the Research Council of Norway (RCN) 

  • Jostein Dalland, former chair of the board of the RCN BIOTEK 2021  

  • Professor Trygve Brautaset, NTNU, scientific director DLN 

  • Professor Marianne Fyhn, UiO, project leader of the DLN project DigiBrain and member of the DLN expert task force 

  • PhD student, Maria Hesjedal, NTNU, member of the DLN junior resource group 

The debate was live-illustrated by Tone Engberg from Engasjert Design AS





The debate was live-illustrated by Tone Engberg from Engasjert Design AS adding a new dimension to the debate as both the panelist and the participants could see the illustrations being created live on the big screen while discussions progressed.  





Centre for Digital Life Norway would like to thank all participants and everyone that contributed to the conference!  

Digital Life Norway Conference 2022 

The date is yet to be decided for Digital Life Norway Conference 2022, but we welcome you to contact us and let us know what topics you would like to see on the agenda next time. All comments and inputs are welcome and you can send us an email right now to let us know what you think: contact@digitallifenorway.org  


Published Dec. 10, 2021 2:06 PM - Last modified Dec. 10, 2021 3:47 PM