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Norway more innovative than previous surveys suggest

The difference can largely be explained by survey methodology. This time, Statistics Norway measured innovation on its own, whereas the previous surveys measured a combination of innovation and research and development activity.

For the new survey, Statistics Norway compiled data on the four main types of innovation: product innovation, process innovation, organisational innovation and marketing innovation. The results show a 15 per cent increase in the number of Norwegian companies reporting innovation activities compared to the previous survey. This puts Norway’s level of innovation on a par with the other Nordic countries.

The Research Council of Norway and Innovation Norway funded the survey.

Twice as much innovation capacity

The largest differences were found in product innovation for new services and in process innovation. Both these innovation types showed a 100 per cent increase for Norway in the latest survey compared to previous surveys. Product innovation with goods, organisational innovation and marketing innovation each rose by roughly 50 per cent.

In light of this latest Statistics Norway survey, it may be time to reassess Norway’s ranking in the international innovation barometer, believes Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council. The results also indicate that it may be easier than anticipated to customise future innovation-oriented instruments.
“The new survey corresponds better to our impression of Norwegian innovation activity,” says Mr Hallén. “We need this kind of good, reliable knowledge of the actual state-of-the-art so that we can design even more effective measures to further enhance innovation capacity in Norway.”

In product innovation and process innovation, Norwegian companies score twice as high in Statistics Norway’s new survey.

Measurement methods disfavoured Norway

Norway’s poor ranking in international surveys of innovation capacity, such as Eurostat’s large-scale Community Innovation Survey (CIS) and Innovation Union Scoreboard (IUS), have given cause for concern. Despite the consistent growth of Norway’s economy in recent years, the country has scored low on innovation capacity indicators. One explanation is Norway’s particular business structure, which among other things is based largely on raw materials. Now the latest figures from Statistics Norway confirm that the methods employed by the previous surveys are behind Norway’s poor showing in part, and that the picture is not as bleak as those surveys suggested.

Until now, data for Norway had been collected through a survey that combines information about companies’ R&D activities with innovation activities. In many other countries these are measured in two separate surveys. Companies that do not carry out much R&D may still conduct innovation activities, but those companies may also have a tendency to underreport their innovation activity when reporting both aspects together.

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