Innovation Norway's Arena programme has approved funding for the Norwegian Tunnel Safety Cluster (NTSC), a project designed to develop innovative and sustainable solutions for better tunnel safety, both in Norway and internationally.

To be based in Rogaland, the cluster counts 69 members at present, of which 55 are businesses. Public stakeholders include Stavanger University Hospital, Stord/Haugesund University College, Rogaland Fire and Rescue IKS and the University of Stavanger.

Funds from the cluster will be spent on development activities within tunnel safety. This will in turn contribute to improving adaptability, securing jobs and creating new ones, said a statement from the University of Stavanger, which holds an important role in the collaboration.

"The cluster collaboration is right at the heart of the conceptual basis of the centre. It is intended to be a meeting point for professions, innovators and academics," explained Professor Ove Njå at the Department of Industrial Economics, Risk Management and Planning (IØRP) at the University of Stavanger

Consulting engineering firm Multiconsult helped to prepare the application, and Thor-Inge Thrana, Regional Director for South-Western Norway, sits on the cluster’s interim board.

“This funding will enable us to do even more to facilitate, catalyse and reinforce development activities within the tunnel safety cluster. This will in turn increase our knowledge and understanding of tunnel safety, helping us to make tunnels safer for everyone,” said Thrana.

“The aim is to build up an innovative and sustainable cluster to commercialise existing and new systems for improving tunnel safety in both the domestic and international markets. It is great that the government is now providing funding in this area. A large number of cutting-edge Norwegian tunnel projects are in the offing, and the principles for how we deal with major accident risk in tunnel design have not been fully developed,” added Henrik Bjelland, a consulting engineer at Multiconsult.