Chemistry Institute completes EUR 4m renovation

Ljubljana, 13 October - The National Institute of Chemistry, one of the leading science institutions in the country, has renovated three of its labs and its old headquarters in an EU-subsidised project worth EUR 3.9m.

The European Fund for Regional Development chipped in EUR 1.8m for the refurbishment of the institute's annexe and EUR 1.4m for the renovation of the old building, institute officials told reporters on Tuesday.

The project included the renovation of the biotechnology lab and the centre for validation technologies and analytics and equipment upgrade, the institute's acting director Janez Levec said.

To a lesser extent the renovation also involved an upgrade of equipment in the laboratory for biomolecular structure, Levec, said, adding that a total of 1,500 squares of premises had been renovated.

"Research achievements wouldn't have happened if we didn't have top equipment," said Levec, so the renovated premises would further encourage cooperation with industry.

The institute has in the past year won seven European projects worth almost EUR 50m in cooperation with its partners; the institute alone won EUR 4.5m.

One of the projects, Adrem, aims to transform green gas with the help of green and renewable energy, researcher Blaž Likozar of the laboratory of catalysis and reaction engineering told the news conference.

The institute generated revenue to the tune of EUR 6.5m based on 110 contracts with industry at home and 13 contracts with foreign companies between the beginning of 2013 and the end of August 2015, Levec said.

He added that they had in the past three years detected 21 innovations of interest to the market starting procedures for patent protection and marketing; they have 17 patents secured internationally.

Levec took over as acting director after director Janko Jamnik was murdered outside a restaurant in Ljubljana in December 2014. The institute's former employee Milko Novič is tried for the murder.

The institute's management board has now picked Gregor Anderluh, the head of the Laboratory for Molecular Biology and Nanobiotechnology, for new director, proposing him for appointment to the government.

Anderluh was picked among five candidates who applied for the job in a repeat call after the management board failed to nominate any of the six candidates applying the first time round.

Levec has recently told the STA in an interview that he did not apply for the call because he was due to retire soon. But he said the new director's first priority would be to resume Jamnik's work.

This means linking the institute with other European science and research institutions, something that Levec said required the institute to continue to aspire for top quality.