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Oslo - quality of life

The Oslo region is a fast-growing knowledge area in southeast Norway. With a high quality of life, safe and accessible, this is the Oslo region - “Powered by Nature”.

Nearly two million people live in the Oslo region, which consists of Oslo, the capital of Norway, the surrounding county of Akershus and Østfold, as well as parts of the counties of Oppland, Vestfold and Buskerud. This region has one-third of Norway’s total population, a country that has been ranked by the United Nations – again - as the best country in the world to live.

Go for a run, walk your dog, take a nap, have a barbeque. In the midst of Gustav Vigeland’s sculptures in Frognerparken you can have a green break in the middle of town.

© VisitOslo / Gunnar Strøm

The Blue and the Green
In the heart of the region lies the city of Oslo. The “Blue and the Green and the City in Between” – the Fjord City of Oslo – has the exhilarating feel of an innovative city in growth, while at the same time maintaining its roots with nature. Literally all inhabitants live within easy reach of an open green area, and the use of parks, forests, neighboring mountains, and of course the sea is part of life all year round.

Growth here is being managed well. According to the Governing Mayor of the City of Oslo Stian Berger Røsland, the key is in the balance. “A city in growth is a city in development, and Oslo is poised on the brink of a decade of positive development. Nurturing a continued growth with a strong emphasis on the environment – while always keeping the quality of life here as a top priority – this is what makes Oslo special.”

Building a Career
Norway’s expertise within advanced technology, research and development (RandD) is clustered around the Oslo region. Almost half of Norway’s RandD activity is located here and the region provides access to the most highly educated labor force in Europe. Although much of the success of the Oslo region is rooted in its intellectual capital. Another critical factor is the balance between women and men in leadership positions. The Norwegian government recognized the importance of this and introduced legislation in 2006 that requires all publicly listed companies to have at least 40% female board members. Nearly all companies affected by the law have now managed to meet this target.

In addition, Norway has one of the most progressive policies in the world when it comes to parental leave and childcare. Parental leave is at full pay for 42 weeks or at 80% wage replacement for 52 weeks, and can be split between the two parents as they wish. However, fathers are required by law to take a minimum of six weeks paternity leave under a “use it or lose it” policy. The government is also committed to providing full preschool coverage for children, securing that anyone who needs childcare is offered a place at childcare centre. The government’s pledge includes substantial funding to support preschools, so that parents’ fees are capped at a monthly maximum.

Multicultural Melting Pot
The Oslo region is multicultural with a large international community. People have a distinct knowledge of foreign languages, and the region is enthusiastic as to attract visitors, students, researches, investors, businesses and foreign workers to the region. With a young and highly educated population, Oslo is the hub for the development of the robust and forward-looking Norwegian economy.

Lene Musæus, Board Chair of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprises in the Oslo region sees attracting talent and competent people both from local and global sources as a key element to strengthen the region’s businesses. Cultural understanding and integration is therefore extremely important in continuing the positive trends here in the region, “Of Norway’s population, approximately 11% descends from immigrants, and in the Oslo this figure is one quarter of the population. The challenge is to continue to get more highly educated people of foreign origin in the workplace on more central positions.”

Refreshing summer activities are never far away in Oslo.

© VisitOslo / Nancy Bundt

The Five Clusters
Focus on innovation and the development of five knowledge-intensive clusters in the region through close collaboration between stakeholders from RandD, industry and public sector is a priority. In cooperation with the private and public entities, Oslo Teknopol, an inter-municipal company that is owned by the City of Oslo and Akershus County works with regional economic development and profiles Oslo region as an international business and knowledge region.

The goal of Oslo Teknopol is to support the Oslo region in continuing to become one of the most innovative regions in Europe. The focus is on development and promotion of five key industry clusters:

• Maritime
• Energy and environment
• Life science
• Culture

These clusters bring together a wide range of skills, talents, and creativity in a thriving mix that is gaining recognition far beyond the borders of the Oslo region. Common to these industry clusters is that they have, or have the potential to develop, communities with world class expertise. See the separate sections in this magazine that looks at each sector in more detail:

Norway’s maritime industry is built on the expertise gained from centuries as a shipping nation, with Oslo at the centre. Maritime companies locate in Oslo to be part of a complete cluster of shipping companies with a range of specialized maritime services. For investors and partners, the strength and the international position of the maritime cluster in Oslo offers many attractive opportunities.

Energy and Environment
The Oslo region plays a key role in driving the Norwegian in renewable energy and CO2-technology. The region possesses a unique competency gained through its central role in 100 years of hydropower production and close to 40 years of offshore petroleum development.

Information Technology
Within Information Technology, the Oslo region is in the midst of a ‘mobile adventure’. Norway is among the world’s leading information societies and widely regarded as having a highly developed mobile market, and the Oslo region is a key driver and centre for research, development and business. Norwegians’ desire for more efficient, entertaining and mobile ways of communication has placed them in the forefront of adapting and developing new products and services.

Life Sciences
Norway’s capital region is paving the way for groundbreaking biomedical research and valuable discoveries within the life sciences. With world-class research within the areas of cancer, neuroscience and marine bio-innovation; advanced health registries and clinical innovation - all combined with access to a highly competent workforce – the Oslo region represents a wealth of potential.

Oslo is the capital where cultural industries bloom. They cover a range of sectors. The “Live Music Capital of Scandinavia” is home to 5,000 musical events each year, and dynamic environment that compliments well the strong cultural heritage found here.

From the fortress at Akershus you can chill out on the grass, taking in great views over the fjord and the busy Aker Brygge

© VisitOslo / Ciulio Bolognesi

Youth in Action
Young adults are the most mobile group when it comes to relocating, and the Oslo region does its best to both attract new talent as well as work with youth, the ones who will take the region into the future. Junior Achievement Young Enterprise (JA-YE) organizations teach enterprise, entrepreneurship, and “economic literacy”, focusing on the role of business in the economy and the relevance of education in the workplace. The mission of JA-YE is to use hands-on experiences to help young people understand the economics of life. In partnership with business and educators, JA-YE brings the real world to students and opens their minds to their potential.

Junior Achievement Yong Enterprise’s work provides benefits in many tangible ways, as witnessed in the JA-YE Innovation camp held in conjunction with the Oslo Innovation Week. In the JA-YE Innovation camp at OIW 2009, 70 students from nine regional Oslo and Akershus high schools took part in a competition to use their creativity in planning a meeting place for both students and businesses at Risløkka Center for Vocational Training that will be completed in 2013.

This EUR 100 million project is a cutting-edge concept that will place interaction with business and industry as a top priority. The pupils had a day to create a project plan, a mood board and then professionally present their solution for a jury. Elvebakken High School won this hotly contested contest, with the jury citing the non traditional way that the group took to present realistic and achievable solutions. It is this sort of interaction between the young and the established organizations in the Oslo region that makes it such an interesting and creative place to live.

Quality of Life

  There are many sound business reasons for investing or having a career in the Oslo region, but equally strong are the incentives to experience a quality of life unparalleled in many other European cities. With a unique blend of vibrant big city life and recreational opportunities, Oslo makes a great place to both work and live. Oslo is home to a large international community and as a northern European hub for creative people, Oslo offers a rich and varied array of music, cuisine, design and art.

Justly famous for its clean air, stable climate and spectacular scenery, the region is a haven for all outdoor pursuits. Visitors from around the world are surprised to discover Oslo’s large scenic areas with public right of way along the fjord or in the forests and mountains that surround the city centre. From golf, sailing, hiking and biking in the summer to skiing, skating and sledding in the winter – all can be reached within minutes from downtown and throughout the region, using the local transportation system of trams, busses and boats.

Internationally Accessible
The Oslo region is Norway’s dominant transport hub. Oslo Airport Gardermoen (OSL) is the second biggest and most punctual international airport in Scandinavia. By air, it takes less than 2 hours to reach all the major cities in northern Europe. The airport is located 45 kilometres north of Oslo. OSL is also ranked as Europe’s most efficient airport, according to Air Transport Research Society (ATRS).

Teach your Children
Investment in education per student at the tertiary level is high in Norway compared to the rest of Europe. An advantage for those studying here is the close cooperation between educational institutions and government, research, and business – something that results in increased opportunities for students when entering the workplace after education has been completed. See the Sidebar “Youth in Action” for an example of this close cooperation.

Come to the Fjord City
Oslo is continuing on its most adventurous harbour renewal project ever, as a string of waterfront properties in the heart of the city are put up for sale and rezoned for urban development. Among the port capitals of Europe, Oslo stands out in undertaking such a comprehensive revitalization of its downtown waterfront. The aim is to reconnect the city with the sea, providing residents and visitors alike with a unique and sustainable quality of life.

Oslo is a compact city with short distances. It is easy to move around by public transportation and you can access rentable city bikes all over the city centre. The Oslo region is known for its focus on environmental issues, energy efficiency, and sustainable city planning through innovative technologies and new infrastructures. In 2009 Oslo was ranked among the top three greenest cities in Europe according to the first European Green City Index.

Snøhetta is the Norwegian name that refers to one of the highest mountains in Norway – and is also the name of the internationally known architect firm based in Oslo. For Snøhetta – the architects of the award-winning Oslo Opera House – a balance with nature means everything. According to Snøhetta’s Senior Partner and Director Kjetil Thorsen, “The relationship to nature means everything in the development of a creative architectural solution. The Oslo region typifies what is important to our work; the meeting of nature with man in a clean, changing and stimulating environment.”

The eclectic crosscountry skiier will find a well-developed network of trails just outside the city.

© VisitOslo / Glen Philip Hagen

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