Mechatronics Innovation Lab (the two buildings on the right) is taking shape in Grimstad. Photo: MIL

Construction of Mechatronics Innovation Lab (MIL) is well underway in Grimstad. The national pilot test lab is scheduled to open in August 2017.

“Everything is going according to plan. We are super excited and eager to get started, but there is still a lot of work that has to be done before we open,” says Bernt Inge Øhrn.

The newly appointed CEO of MIL extends a warm thank you to regional and national politicians that secured the final MNOK 30 needed to buy the necessary equipment for the lab. Aust-Agder and Vest-Agder counties also contributed with an additional MNOK 2 each.

Mechatronics Innovation Lab is defined as a significant national facility for a number of industries. The University of Agder will host MIL, and the lab will be organized as a private company.

New equipment and new solutions must be tested and documented before entering the market. MIL will be a laboratory for pilot testing within mechatronics and related fields. The purpose of the lab is to strengthen innovation of businesses throughout the country and shorten the time to market when introducing new products and solutions.

“MIL will boost the entire region and help us develop and keep expertise – not only in Agder, but also in the rest of the country. Today, companies need to do a lot of testing abroad. When MIL opens they can do more, or all, testing at home,” says Øhrn.

MIL will be established in a 15 meters tall and 2,500 square meters large building. It will be equipped with a 50 tons capacity bridge crane, and have room for a Robotics Lab and a so-called High Force Lab, flexible test booths with mobile control rooms, material testing equipment and other types of equipment – in addition to ample office space.

The lab will also be a center for companies supplying test services to the market. Instead of investing in expensive test equipment, this can be rented at MIL and adopted to the services provided by the different test supplier.

“A couple of NODE companies have already signed up for testing as soon as we open. We expect more to follow,” says Øhrn. The 40-year-old left a position a global position at NOV to become the first CEO of MIL.

“I am thrilled to be presented with this opportunity. All my life I have been interested in robotics and automation. I very much look forward to developing Mechatronics Innovation Lab as a national test center and eventually a world-leading center for innovation and piloting within mechatronics and other disciplines”, says Øhrn.