The digital life industry internship initiative launched this spring

The Centre for Digital Life Norway internship initiative has been kicked off after two years of planning. A huge achievement for the centre and important for PhDs who will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience from biotech companies in Norway and abroad. This is a unique national collaboration with some challenges that had to be overcome on the way.


In the first round of the Centre Digital Life Norway industry internship programme, seven PhD students from research projects in the centre will work in biotech companies in Norway and Sweden to try out a professional path outside academia. The companies that have opened their doors to the PhDs in this round are ArcticZymes Technologies ASA in Tromsø, AstraZeneca in Gothenburg, GlucoSet AS in Trondheim, IDL Biotech AB in Stockholm, STIM AS in Bergen and Theracule AS and and Xellia Pharmaceuticals AS in Oslo.

Dual benefit for young researchers and companies

During the internship period of three months the candidates will join in the daily activities and work routines of the companies and are given tasks that are relevant for their development as PhD students and their future career. Moreover, companies will similarly learn to know academia better through the PhD visits.

An extension of the career development work of the centre

Career development for young researchers is one of the pillars of the Centre for Digital Life Norway, and the centre has run a successful research school for five years. The Digital Life internship initiative is an extension of the academic training in the centre.

The internship initiative that has been developed in close collaboration with the host institutions of the PhD candidates, biotech companies, clusters and Digital Life Norway partner organisations, and the initiative will also strengthen collaboration between academia and industry.

Unique national collaboration

– All five Digital Life Norway university partners, NTNU, UiO, UiB, NMBU, and UiT, have contributed and agreed upon establishment of this joint initiative which represents a rather unique example of national collaboration, says the leader of the Centre for Digital Life Norway, Trygve Brautaset.

Brautaset explains that the centre had to handle two important challenges to get the industry internship initiative up and running – the public financing of the internships and intellectual property rights (IPR). 

– When it comes to public financing, our contracts between the industry partner and the PhD students' host universities clearly state that the major purpose of the internships is to strengthen the PhD education in the Centre for Digital Life Norway – the candidates are in industry solely to learn and get valuable experience not to work for the companies. The PhD candidates are therefore employed and financed by the Centre for Digital Life Norway during the industry internship. The financing of the internship does therefore not come into conflict with the ESA guidelines for state aid for companies.

– When it comes to IPR, where universities normally claim IPR from their employees’ work, they accepted to not claim any IPR rights from the internships since the PhD candidates do not work on their PhD project during the industry internship. It should however also be mentioned that the way the internships are arranged, makes it highly unlikely that any IPR will be generated, and this is also not a purpose of the industry internships. 

Many contributors

In addition to the companies that will welcome PhD students in this round, the centre has a long list of other companies who have contributed to the development of the industry internship initiative – none mentioned, none forgotten. 

Published Aug. 25, 2020 11:33 AM - Last modified Oct. 23, 2020 12:59 PM