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Celebratory event marks start of construction for new InnoRenew CoE complex

The InnoRenew CoE research institute celebrated the start of construction for the largest wooden building in Slovenia with a groundbreaking ceremony in Livade, Izola. Danilo Markočič, Municipality of Izola’s mayor, Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of Economic Development and Technology, and Dr Simona Kustec, Minister of Education, Science and Sport, attended the celebratory event. 

The new InnoRenew CoE complex is arising in Livade, Izola. When complete, two interconnected buildings will cover 8,200 square meters of offices and research laboratories. These buildings, designed by architects Eva Prelovšek Niemelä and Arne Niemelä together with scientists from InnoRenew CoE, will be built both according to verified principles of contemporary sustainable building construction and ideas from the institute’s researchers that have not yet been verified “live”. The buildings will consist of a hybrid combination of timber, concrete and steel, and the entire building complex will be continuously monitored by scientists to see how it works; therefore, it will itself be an ongoing research project.

The new InnoRenew CoE complex is arising in Livade, Izola. Image: UP

“Here a research center with state-of-the-art equipment will grow and, above all, with an excellent international and interdisciplinary team, which will be able to make big breakthroughs in Slovenian, European and global wood science areas,” said Dr Andreja Kutnar, InnoRenew CoE director, to highlight the significance of the complex beyond its status as the largest wooden building in Slovenia.

Moreover, Dr Kutnar emphasized the importance of society’s transition to a circular economy, which the wood industry certainly enables, and the transfer of research knowledge into industrial practice. The fact that researchers and industry representatives work closely together under one roof is a radical mental leap for Slovenia, and this is of great importance for Dr Kutnar.

“Our new wooden building will become a crossroads of efforts to transfer research knowledge into industrial practice as we will be able to effectively connect research and development, equipment and knowledge with the development capacities of the wood industry and other related industries in one place,” she noted. “We will be able to organize additional important events for the popularization of science, development and innovation, and, in cooperation with policy makers and political decision makers, we will be able to co-create favorable conditions for the development of wood science.”

Dr Andreja Kutnar. Image: UP

The initial idea for the InnoRenew project was born from the realization that wood science in Slovenia needs a new start to regain an equal position with other economic sectors.

Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of Economic Development and Technology, agreed and expressed a wish for similar projects. He also emphasized the complex attitude of Slovenes towards wood.

“We are proud of it, but only now are we putting it back at the center of our innovation, industrial design and architecture,” he said. “The building that will grow here is a turning point, after which nothing will be the same.”

Minister Počivalšek is convinced that the InnoRenew CoE research institute and construction project is a good example of a lasting and sustainable breakthrough of the Slovenian economy.

“Slovenia can find its place under the sun only with knowledge and commitment to new, more advanced models of social and economic development,” he emphasized.

Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek. Image: UP

The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport financially supported the InnoRenew project and provided co-financing for the InnoRenew CoE complex and state-of-the-art laboratory equipment. Dr Simona Kustec, Minister of Education, Science and Sport, expressed her happiness that Slovenia will receive a unique facility for research, development and innovation, thus achieving an important milestone for the development of science.

“The start of construction of the InnoRenew CoE research institute is a tremendous stimulus in such an uncertain time as the whole world is facing,” she said.

Minister of Education, Science and Sport Dr Simona Kustec. Image: UP

In 2017, the Municipality of Izola’s municipal council unanimously confirmed that the building right for the land in Livade would be transferred to InnoRenew CoE, giving the new research institute land for construction of its complex.

“With today’s event, we are implementing the strategy we outlined when we took over the mandate in Izola – to provide citizens with a better quality of life and more stable jobs,” said Danilo Markočič, Mayor of Izola, as he welcomed everyone. “I am convinced that the excellent knowledge the institute is bringing to Izola will offer our young generations plenty of business opportunities and possibilities for personal growth.”

The event ended with creation of a wooden tree, which symbolizes that the key to success is cooperation, partnerships and joint efforts for progress.

On behalf of the InnoRenew project’s ten partners (Fraunhofer WKI, University of Primorska, Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia, Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute, University of Maribor, Pulp and Paper Institute, Zavod eOblak, National Institute of Public Health, Regional Development Agency of the Ljubljana Urban Region and InnoRenew CoE), Dr Klavdija Kutnar, rector of the University of Primorska (a leading project partner), and Dr Dragan Marušič, president of the InnoRenew CoE Executive Board, inserted their piece of the tree. Partners of the construction project also helped creating the wooden tree – the leading company VG5 with its partner Marles hiše Maribor and the supervision companies Projekt and Proplus.

Image: UP