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New white paper on industrial policy focuses on innovation

The Norwegian Government has launched a white paper on industrial policy that provides a framework for a trade and industry that has the capacity to restructure and innovate. The three main public agencies in the Norwegian research and innovation system are ready to follow up the policy using new and existing instruments.

“The white paper on industrial policy (available in Norwegian only) takes the challenges facing Norwegian trade and industry seriously,” says John-Arne Røttingen, Chief Executive of the Research Council of Norway. “It’s encouraging that the Government is seeking to strengthen the industry-oriented instruments for research and innovation, especially within enabling technologies and through a new tax incentive scheme for research-based start-ups.”

Increasing funding for the technical-industrial institutes is very important, believes John-Arne Røttingen. (Photo: Sindre Mekjan/Forskningsrådet)

“Increasing basic public funding to the technical-industrial institutes is another important measure in this context. These institutes have played a vital role in developing many dynamic industries and companies in Norway and may play an equally important role in the ongoing process of restructuring, for instance in terms of digital transformation.

Looking to increase exports and international investment

The white paper on industrial policy focuses on Norway’s need for a greener, smarter and more innovative trade and industry that can increase future growth, jobs and tax revenues. Anita Krohn Traaseth, CEO of Innovation Norway, believes this is the right angle to take.

“The Government hits the bullseye in focusing on boosting exports and attracting international investment. Establishing a new global growth programme to increase Norwegian exports, enhancing the guarantees issued by the Norwegian Export Credit Guarantee Agency (GIEK) and joint brand-building will help to get more sustainable Norwegian solutions out into the world,” she says. “It is also welcome news that the Norwegian Innovation Clusters programme will be strengthened and further developed to be even more relevant for the changing framework for trade and industry.”

Launching industrial testing centres

As part of its efforts to promote innovation in trade and industry, the Government is launching the Norsk katapult [Norwegian catapult] support scheme. Administered by the Industrial Development Corporation of Norway (Siva), the scheme is designed to facilitate faster industrial growth and build bridges between markets and the research community.

“The Norwegian catapult scheme will give companies access to equipment and specialist facilities during the financially demanding intermediate phase where there is a need for testing and visualising new solutions on an industrial scale,” explains Espen Susegg, President of Siva. “Establishing open, multi-use centres affiliated with established industry will accelerate the innovation process, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises.”

The private and public sectors will be joining forces on the Norwegian catapult support scheme. Siva will soon be issuing a call for proposals to find good industrial partners.

Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Mæland and Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the launching of the new white paper on industrial policy. (Photo: John Vigrestad)

Ensuring effective coordination to promote trade and industry

The new white paper on industrial policy calls for a coordinated effort on the part of the public agencies in the research and innovation system to promote Norwegian trade and industry using new and existing instruments. The white paper also identifies public procurement as a driver for innovation and restructuring in the Norwegian economy. By asking for new and better solutions, public procurers can play a major role in promoting development and new ways of thinking. The Government will also design an initiative for public-private innovation under Innovation Norway.

According to Røttingen, Traaseth and Susegg, the white paper on industrial policy recognises that the public agencies in the research and innovation system are and will continue to be essential for Norwegian trade and industry. At the same time, the heads of the three main agencies recognise that the changing framework for trade and industry may need public agencies that can think in new directions. The agencies are ready to work together constructively to create the best possible foundation for an innovative Norwegian trade and industry.

Written by:
Roy Strømsnes, Kjetil Svorkmo Bergman/Maria Ekornes Myhre. Translation: Darren McKellep/Victoria Coleman.
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