Digital Agenda for Norway: Digitisation vital for welfare and jobs

"Technology represents opportunities. We must exploit these opportunities to provide Norway with good public services and to create new jobs," says Jan Tore Sanner, Minister of Local Government and Modernisation.

In the white paper Digital Agenda for Norway the Government announces its intention to enable Norway to exploit the opportunities ICT usage offers for value creation and innovation. Norway has been experiencing low productivity growth since 2005. Half of the productivity growth that has been achieved can be attributed to digitisation.

"There is little doubt about what technology and digitisation mean for welfare, value creation and the competitiveness of our economy. We therefore regard ICT and digitisation as a strategic competitive advantage for Norway," says Sanner.

The white paper describes how  better access to ICT competence in the public and private sectors, regulation better adapted to a digital society, and a public sector as a demanding customer will serve as policy instruments to achieve these goals. The Government will also facilitate Norwegian enterprises' participation in the digital single market in Europe.

Better education

In Norway the proportion of ICT specialists and graduates in the field of mathematics, the natural sciences and technology is low compared with many other countries.

"The supply of ICT expertise is vital to our ability to restructure and strengthen competitive ability in business and industry and to establishing startups and creating new jobs. The Government will therefore strengthen its investment in ICT educational programmes in Norway," says Sanner.

The Government is considering: establishing more study places in advanced ICT expertise; facilitating fewer, larger and stronger scientific ICT communities; strengthening ICT research through the Long-term Plan for Research and Higher Education; and including a clearly defined technology perspective in basic education. Already from next autumn, the Government will be launching programming as an optional subject in several lower secondary schools.

Data-driven innovation

Public registers and databases contain vast amounts of valuable data. The Government will develop strategies to make data from important sectors, such as publicly funded research, cultural activities, transport and communication, government expenditure, and maps and properties, more accessible.

"Access to open public data leads to new services, entrepreneurship, business development and a more open and democratic society. Giving others access to these data can create added value for the whole society," says Sanner.

Big data is an area in the data-driven economy that can stimulate development of new services, solutions and jobs. The Government will encourage Norwegian industry and research institutions to use the EU's research programmes and funding opportunities for big data projects and to consider whether big data can be applied in the public sector.

"We must make use of the market and cooperate with industry to increase our innovative strength. Innovation partnership will make it possible for the public sector to contribute to innovation and new thinking," says Sanner.

The Government will strengthen innovation and business development in the area of care technology by adopting open standards and through increased use of innovative procurement procedures. The Government will also present a white paper on the framework conditions for industry that will include automation and digitisation.

Norway part of a European digital single market

The Government will pursue an active policy that will enable Norway to benefit from the digital single market in Europe.

"The Government will continue to pursue an active policy towards the EU in the digital area so that Norwegian enterprises can participate in the European single market. At the same time we will protect vital Norwegian interests related to consumer rights, copyright law, electronic communications, data protection and use of cloud services," says Sanner.

Last year the European Commission launched its strategy for developing the digital single market (DSM). The goal is to enable public enterprises, business and industry and private individuals to interact easily and effectively across borders by digital means. This could provide access to a digital market with more than 500 million people and offer significant gains for industry and the public sector.