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More Norwegian research must lead to innovation

“It is a clear political objective to increase Norwegian industry’s participation in the EU framework programme, Horizon 2020, compared with previous framework programmes,” said Ms Mæland in her remarks to over 600 participants at the Focus on Business seminar. The annual event gathers representatives from companies, research institutions and the public administration.

“The Research Council will follow up this objective,” promised Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council of Norway. “We will work actively in the coming years to mobilise Norwegian industry and other relevant actors to ensure that research activity leads to innovation.”

Norwegian industry must turn research results into innovation, said Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Monica Mæland. (Photo: Sverre Jarild) Norwegian industry must turn research results into innovation, said Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Monica Mæland. (Photo: Sverre Jarild)

Cooperation stimulates growth

“If we are to achieve our goal of increased value creation and sustained growth, cooperation between the government authorities and industry is a must,” said Ms Mæland, who also noted the importance of establishing ties between research groups and companies in order to measure up against the competition from other countries.

The minister identified the Research Council’s centre schemes (the Centres for Research-based Innovation (SFI), the Centres for Environment-friendly Energy Research (FME) and the Centres of Excellence (SFF)), as well as the SkatteFUNN tax deduction scheme and the Programme for User-driven Research-based Innovation (BIA) as prime examples of initiatives that have successfully promoted industry-oriented and industry-driven R&D activity in Norway.

Seeks to become a leader in innovation

According to the minister, creating arenas that facilitate interaction between research groups and industry in the form of professional networks and social meeting places is a key factor for success.

The Research Council is dedicated to connecting research and industry, says Executive Director Anne Kjersti Fahlvik. (Photo: Sverre Jarild) The Research Council is dedicated to connecting research and industry, says Executive Director Anne Kjersti Fahlvik. (Photo: Sverre Jarild)

The Research Council is eager to take on this challenge, says Anne Kjersti Fahlvik, Executive Director of the Division for Innovation. “We are dedicated to connecting research and industry through measures such as networks that extend across various sectors, regions and fields. And we are willing to try out novel means of achieving the national objectives.”

“We are continually trying out new instruments that will make us a better partner and research incubator, and not just an agency that distributes public funding. For example, we have initiatives that focus on younger researchers, more high-risk projects and innovative ways to cultivate new projects such as the Norwegian Idea Lab initiative (Idélab), tested for the first time earlier this year.”

“It is a stated objective to help Norway to improve its current ranking as a Moderate Innovator on the EU’s Innovation Union Scoreboard (IUS),” said Ms Fahlvik during the seminar. The IUS provides a comparative assessment of the research and innovation performance of OECD countries.

Norway must shift gears

Among the speakers at the Focus on Business Seminar was Hege Skryseth, Executive Vice President of the technology corporation Kongsberg Gruppen. Kongsberg Gruppen and its associated industry cluster in Kongsberg are examples of how a high-cost country such as Norway can use knowledge to remain competitive even though it is unable compete in terms of labour cost.

Norway must shift gears, said Hege Skryseth, Executive Vice President of Kongsberg Gruppen. Director General of the Research Council of Norway, Arvid Hallén, led the discussion. Norway must shift gears, said Hege Skryseth, Executive Vice President of Kongsberg Gruppen. Director General of the Research Council of Norway, Arvid Hallén, led the discussion.

 “We have developed from a cornerstone company in a small city into a global enterprise,” Ms Skryseth stated. “A number of Norwegian companies could do the same, but then the country would need to shift gears,” she stated.

“If we as a nation continue down the same path we are on, we will end up behind such forward-looking countries as China, Brazil, India and Russia,” she emphasised.

“We must not let Norway’s success in creating a supplier industry with a hundred billion kroner in annual revenues give us a false sense of security,” said Ms Skryseth. She offered food for thought by noting that not a single Norwegian company is included among the top 100 in Forbes’ list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies, whereas both Sweden and Denmark have three companies on the list.

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