Leif Haukom (left) has chaired the SFI Offshore Mechatronics since its inception in 2015. As he steps down, he is replaced by Tom Fidjeland, CEO of GCE NODE.

Tom Fidjeland replaces Leif Haukom as Chairman of the Board of the SFI Offshore Mechatronics, a center for research-driven innovation.

“Leif has been a tremendous asset for the SFI. Based on his long and strong track-record in the industry, Leif has chaired the SFI in a brilliant way since its inception. We thank him for his efforts in leading the very first SFI in our region,” says Tom Fidjeland, CEO of GCE NODE.

Established in 2015, the SFI Offshore Mechatronics is hosted by and located at the University in Agder. Several GCE NODE companies are key players in the SFI, among them all the majors, such as National Oilwell Varco Norway, MHWirth, Cameron Sense and MacGregor Norway.

Leif Haukom chaired the SFI’s Board of Directors on behalf of GCE NODE. A few years into retirement, Haukom has now decided to leave this position as well.

An evaluation report from 2019 showed that the companies participating in the SFI display a more positive attitude towards research than before. Haukom regards this as the most important change brought about by the SFI.

“From the companies’ point of view there has traditionally been a gap between academic research and industrial needs. As a result of the companies’ involvement, research in the SFI has been more focused,” says Haukom.

He has enjoyed working closely with Geir Hovland, the Director of SFI Offshore Mechatronics.

“Geir has done an amazing job. We have complemented each other in our different roles. I am happy to see him continue in his position,” says Haukom.

SFI Offshore Mechatronics has already resulted in 25 PhD positions. Another 10 degrees will be completed by the end of 2023, when the SFI officially closes.

“A valuable outcome of the SFI is achieved when PhD fellows complete their research, get hired by the
industry and utilize their new knowledge to develop better products for the companies,” says Haukom.

SFI Offshore Mechatronics receives NOK 100 million from The Research Council of Norway, NOK 50 million from the participating universities and NOK 60 million from the industry.

“Building on the idea of co-creation of knowledge, which is the vision of the University of Agder, the industry and university have come close in the SFI. Both parties will for years to come continue to gain from the technological knowledge and personal relationships established through the SFI,” says Haukom.