Opening statement at the conference on Norway-India collaboration in research education and innovation

Minister Anniken Huitfeldt’s opening statement at the conference "Sustainable Pathways – Norway-India collaboration in research, education and innovation” at Deichmanske library, Oslo, June 12 2023.

Dear Minister Rijiju, Ola, ladies and gentlemen,

Over 243 years ago, in 1780, Mr. Carl Deichman passed away. Deichman was not only a successful businessman. He was also a member of the Scientific Society in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark and Norway back then. And he was a true child of the age of enlightenment.

The 18th century was in many ways the century of rationality. The era was characterized by the belief that knowledge and enlightenment could bring out the best in people. And Carl Deichman shared that belief.

Throughout his life he collected thousands of books. And before he passed away, he donated all his books to Oslo municipality. That was the start of the Deichman library, where we are gathered today. A venue truly devoted to research, education, and innovation.

Like Deichman, we live in times of change. With many challenges.

The effects of the climate crisis are already upon us. In India, in Norway, and around the globe.

And one could argue that research and innovation are what brought the climate crisis upon us. But still, research and innovation are what will bring us out of this crisis. Through new, green, and sustainable solutions. In transport, in energy, in agriculture and other sectors of our society.

In many of these areas, Indian and Norwegian research communities are paving the way for knowledge-based, sustainable development. Areas such as combating mother and infant mortality; saving the ocean to protect our common goods; making our buildings and engines more energy efficient, digital innovation, and boosting the circularity of our economy.

India and Norway have a strong foundation for future research cooperation. My job, as well as the two ministers in front of me – and the rest of our governments’ job – is to act as enablers. Our job is to get the necessary agreements in place. To open doors. To clear bureaucratic obstacles, so that information and cooperation between our research institutions can be as smooth as possible.

I think our long-standing cooperation on oceans and polar research is a case in point. It works very well. Hosting Indian researchers in Ny-Ålesund on the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic, benefits both our countries. I am really happy, Minister, that you will visit Svalbard later this week.

The Arctic is where we see the effects of climate change first. In Svalbard you will be able to witness the close cooperation between our scientists. And see how they monitor climate change and its global effects.

I am truly honoured, Minister, that you are visiting Norway shortly after your appointment. I take it as a testimony to the strong and mutually beneficial research partnership between our two countries.

Asia comprises 60 % of the world’s population and 45 % of the global GDP. India has the world’s largest population. The fifth largest and fastest growing economy.

Needless to say, Asian markets are increasingly important for Norwegian export and Norway’s economy. In shipping, oil and gas, seafood industries, renewables, and advanced technology. And in other areas as well.

Some voices argue that Asia’s rapid advancement and development poses a competition. A risk to European businesses. Well, I beg to differ. I believe that the rise of Asia is an opportunity. For Norway, and for Europe. We need more free trade, more cooperation, more dialogue. Not less.

Isolation and protectionism are not in anyone’s interest. Also, India’s and Norway’s business and research communities are largely complimentary.

In April last year I visited India for the Raisina dialogue. And I was accompanied by a large Norwegian business delegation. Norwegian energy companies, and companies operating with circular economy.  

India is, and will be, a key player if we are to solve the climate crisis. And the prospects for cooperation in renewables are remarkable. During my visit, eight agreements were signed between Norwegian and Indian businesses. In areas such as hydrogen, fuel cells, and carbon capture- and storage. Areas where we have a lot of competence, and experience. Over 120 Norwegian companies are active in India. The value of our bilateral trade has doubled over the last two years.

Norwegian investors are also focusing more on India. The Norwegian Pension Fund Global is likely one of India’s largest single foreign investors. In 2021 they invested 17.1 billion U.S. dollars in India.

Since 2003 Norwegian governments have allocated 1,2 billion kroner, about 9 billion rupees, to 204 research cooperation projects. India matches this with its own funding.

Norway’s first national strategy was published in 2009. The new strategy, Norway-India 2030, was launched ten years later.

The strategy is a long-term roadmap. It is an integrated and coordinated approach for Norway’s bilateral cooperation with India, across all government sectors.

The strategy recognizes research cooperation as a key tool in priority areas such as oceans, energy, climate, environment, digital public goods, democracy, and a rules-based world order.

In short, although we are very different in size, together we are almost 20% of the world’s population. And we are truly solid partners. But I believe there is room for even more cooperation.

India is becoming a powerhouse for science and technology, and thus a preferred choice for many Norwegian institutions looking for partnerships.

And in addition to building on our existing programmes, we want to boost student mobility. Both ways. We want more of our students and researchers to experience India. And I hope to welcome even more Indian students and researchers to Norway.

Conferences such as this are important network venues in that respect.

I look forward to hearing the outcomes of your discussions on joint research projects at the conference today.


I believe in a predictable world order, based on international law, cooperation, trade, and sound competition between companies. But I also believe in a knowledge-based world order. A world where decisions are based on knowledge, not prejudice. Where research and innovation will help us through the challenges in front of us.

And there is no lack of challenges. Climate, nature, oceans, poverty, diseases and pandemics.

And in today’s world, it is increasingly difficult to navigate. We must find new ways in areas we have never been before. But as the baseball player Yogi Berra once said; “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there”.

And that is – perhaps – the most important contribution from the research community: To tell us where we should go, and what might happen when we get there.

Good luck with the conference. I am looking forward to our continued cooperation as we move ahead.

Thank you.