Publish Date: 03.09.2020

Category: News from the University

Prof. Igor Papič, Rector of the University of Ljubljana (UL), and Assoc. Prof. Matjaž Kuntner, Director of the National Institute of Biology (NIB), signed an agreement that makes NIB an associate member of Slovenia’s largest and oldest university. The two institutions will strengthen their cooperation in scientific, research, development and teaching activities.

Slovenia’s largest and oldest university, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, and Slovenia’s third largest public research institute in natural sciences, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, have reached a new milestone in their cooperation. With the public signing of the agreement, the NIB has become an associate member of the UL. In addition to the existing cooperation agreements, the two institutions will also apply for and conduct joint research programmes and projects at home and abroad, and strive to transfer research results into economic practice. NIB’s habilitated staff members will be able to participate in the education process at the UL, undertaking supplementary work and part-time employment. The UL will actively support NIB’s Biotechnological Hub investment project as part of the UL’s science campus, and the Ljubljana University Incubator and the NIB Biotechnological Hub Incubator will cooperate in supporting promising emerging biotechnology companies. Scientific articles, produced by the NIB, will be entitled to cite its UL affiliation, i.e. “NIB, Associate Member of the University of Ljubljana”.

Prof. Igor Papič, Rector of the UL, expressed his satisfaction with the successful coordination of the NIB’s associate membership agreement, and the consent of the Slovenian government. “I sincerely thank my colleagues from the NIB for their constructive cooperation. I wish that other research institutes would follow this example. The UL has long strived to establish formal links with important research institutes in order to strengthen cooperation,” Papič said at the signing of the agreement. Assoc. Prof. Matjaž Kuntner, the Director of the NIB, is also looking forward to greater cooperation: “NIB’s associated membership is creating a new foundation for scientific and teaching excellence in Slovenia. In addition, NIB’s new infrastructure that is being built at Večna pot in Ljubljana will provide an optimal research and teaching environment for scientists and students.

NIB’s associate membership enables closer cooperation between the University of Ljubljana Biotechnical Faculty (UL BF) and other UL members, thus restoring the close connections within Slovenian biology that existed in the past. “This is a step in the right direction,” said Prof. Emil Erjavec, the Dean of the UL BF. “In order to deliver scientific excellence and have a positive social impact, it is necessary to consolidate knowledge, staff, equipment and the institutional organisation of Slovenian research and higher education, which have so far been too fragmented,” Erjavec emphasised.

“Current challenges in organic biology, molecular biology and ecology highlight the great vulnerability of the human species. Solving these challenges requires a creative environment that will foster cooperation among top experts as well as a state-of-the-art research infrastructure”, added Prof. Marjana Regvar, Chair of Botany and Plant Physiology at the Department of Biology, UL BF, and concluded: “The Department of Biology sees NIB’s membership as an opportunity for closer cooperation between researchers from both institutions, and a prerequisite for successfully achieving our teaching objectives. The outstanding results of our scientists are a benefit to all – not only to researchers, but to the new generations of biologists and society as a whole.”

The UL and the NIB already share a history; in 1960, the UL established the Institute of Biology as part of the Department of Biology at its Biotechnical Faculty. After 1994, the Institute was renamed the NIB, while its foundership was taken over by the Slovenian government. After a quarter of a century, the UL and NIB have thus restored their connection, while maintaining operational and programme autonomy.