Meld. St. 22 (2020–2021)

Data as a resource— Meld. St. 22 (2020–2021) Report to the Storting (white paper)

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4 Data as a resource in business and industry

4.1 Background

In the private sector, data has traditionally been regarded as an important competitive advantage, and most businesses have been protective of their own data. The retail industry collects customer data for loyalty programmes, industry collects process data, and agriculture and aquaculture collect increasing amounts of information from their local environments. Increased access to data and the realisation that the more data, the better the analysis have led a growing number of businesses to see the advantages of sharing their data with others and of using data from other sources in their own activities.

In some sectors, such as oil and gas and aquaculture, Norwegian companies are leading the way in data sharing. This often applies to the sharing of industrial data, which are collected as part of the operation and production processes. Such data are often used in combination with geographic data (geospatial data) to establish location information. They can also be combined with important data from the local environment. such as meteorological data, pollution data and soil data.

Although some industries are already sharing data certain data types, vast potential remains. The health industry is one area with vast value-creating potential, and the Government has launched a separate white paper on the health industry.1 However, health data also present challenges because many of the most valuable datasets contain personal data. In other industries the main challenge is competitively sensitive information.

Textbox 4.1 Expert group on private sector data sharing

The expert group’s mandate has been to examine the following questions related to the sharing of data from the business sector:

  • what problems arise when data are shared in value chains in the business sector and between (competing) companies?

  • what data from the business sector, beyond those mentioned in the EU’s Open Data Directive, might be of particular public interest?

  • what conditions must exist before such data can be shared?

The expert group emphasises that, for most businesses, the ability to use their own data will be the key enabler of value creation and a condition for being able to benefit from data from other sources. It is therefore important to strengthen the capacity of individual businesses to understand and use their own data. Data sharing alone does not create value, according to the expert group.

There are four conditions in particular that need to be in place; see Figure 4.1. The most important motivation for the business sector to share data is to advance their own business interests. Value can only be created once the companies have gained a thorough understanding of the underlying challenges that need resolving and can formulate a sound strategy for realising the potential value. They must also have access to data in sufficient volumes and of the right quality. Moreover, they need access to sufficient skills and capacity to properly process the data, including software and other digital tools for analysing and using them. Finally, they need access to sufficient amounts of risk-bearing capital and competitive conditions.

Figure 4.1 Conditions for succeeding with data sharing

Figure 4.1 Conditions for succeeding with data sharing

The expert group highlights several challenges associated with sharing data in the business sector, and suggests measures to address them:

There is a need for generalist and specialist skills in areas that are important for data sharing, such as ICT specialists, computer scientists and experts in the interface between law and ICT:

Focus should be placed on educational programmes, combined with more cooperation between the business sector and academia on research centres. Research centres linked to the work on using datasets of particular public interest should be established.

There is a lack of trust between the players, and businesses fear that sharing data will weaken their position in the market:

Through a combination of good data-sharing architecture and standard agreements, it is possible to create mechanisms that enable businesses to protect their rights to a large extent.

Companies feel they have little scope for action because they are worried about violating complicated rules and regulations:

There is a need for advisory bodies that can help businesses understand their scope for action, particularly with regard to competition rules, data protection regulations and rules governing illegal state aid. Norway must support and contribute to the EU’s efforts to create better competition opportunities for smaller companies in the battle against the multinational tech giants.

There is a lack of capital for start-ups:

The private start-up ecosystem in Norway is not strong enough, and more involvement from the public sector is therefore recommended.

Source Rapport fra ekspertgruppen for datadeling i næringslivet [Report by the Expert Group on Private Sector Data Sharing] April 2020

In the spring of 2020, the Minister of Regional Development and Digitalisation appointed an expert group on private sector data sharing, and the group’s work forms an important knowledge base for this white paper. The expert group’s mandate and recommendations are discussed in detail in Box 4.1 As early as 2017, a ‘21 process’ on digitalisation was initiated. A ‘21 process’ is industry-driven national strategy work commissioned by the Government or a ministry to promote research-based value creation and development in key areas of society. Digital21 is therefore a strategy by and for the private sector. The strategy makes recommendations on how the private sector can develop and benefit from skills, technology, research and development in order to succeed with digitalisation. The recommendations cut across different business sectors and industries, with participation from the private sector and knowledge communities. Data resources represent an important area for the strategy. The expert group on private sector data sharing used Digital21 as the starting point for its work.

4.2 Prerequisites for increased data sharing and use in the private sector

Increased data sharing in the private sector will help give more enterprises access to a sufficient volume of high-quality data to advance data-driven innovation. This particularly applies to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups which do not generate large volumes of data from their own activities.

4.2.1 The ability and willingness to share and use data in the private sector

In a data-driven economy, the ability to convert data into insight will be important in determining which companies and industries will succeed in the future. It will be particularly important for companies to learn about the potential in new technologies. But new technologies alone provide no benefit unless companies are willing to implement the necessary changes in their organisations, work processes and business models. Management has a strong influence on how a company and its employees use and adopt new technology. Many companies in the industries that are leading the way in data sharing and use have established their own strategies or road maps for how they will digitalise and leverage their own data to improve and renew their business or to innovate.

Having the right skills is an important prerequisite if companies are to benefit from data. Many highlight the lack of relevant skills as an important reason why companies, and SMEs in particular, fail to leverage the value-creating potential of their data. They often lack employees with insight into the potential of, for example, data analytics and artificial intelligence.2 Moreover, the IT industry cites difficulties in recruiting candidates with specialist IT skills.3 Skills and research for the data economy are discussed in chapter 6.

4.2.2 Digital infrastructure and standards for exchanging data

Industry principles and standardisation

The private sector is encouraged to take the initiative to develop common infrastructures for data sharing within the respective industries and sectors. Several of the industries in which Norway is at the forefront of digitalisation and data sharing in the private sector have come together to define and/or develop standards and frameworks for data sharing and use. Such standardisation is an important prerequisite for increased digitalisation of businesses and better use of data for greater value creation.

For data to be useful to others, they must be made available in ways that enable other enterprises to realise their value. To do this, the data must be searchable and of high quality, and it must be possible to connect different datasets securely and effectively. It is therefore important that datasets are complete and updated, described with good metadata and machine-readable.

Companies that make their data available to others should preferably grant access to the data via an open application programming interface (API). APIs are used to exchange data between applications. API documentation describes the interface, which data are exchanged and how other programmes should proceed in order to communicate via the relevant API. A standard interface is an advantage.

In Norway, standardisation is conducted through interaction between the public and private sectors. The state plays an important part in the development of new standards, as client, technical authority and user. In many areas there is a close connection between government regulations and standards. Common standards contribute to higher levels of productivity and quality and facilitate increased innovation. The state should therefore take the initiative and involve the private sector in order to stimulate a good and cross-disciplinary environment for further development of standards.

International standardisation activities

Standards, specifications and guidelines are developed internationally through the standardisation organisations ISO and CEN. These are standards with which Norwegian business and industry must comply in order to participate in the European and international markets.

By influencing international standards on data sharing and use within different sectors and industries, Norway can help ensure that these standards are relevant for Norwegian enterprises. Such influence is exerted by participating in international standardisation activities and by chairing working groups in areas that are important for Norway. It is most often the large companies that take an active part in standardisation activities. The threshold for participating in this type of activity can be high for many SMEs for various reasons, such as travel costs and the time involved.

The Government will encourage Norwegian business and industry to participate in national and international standardisation activities related to the data economy. The Government will help promote the work on international standardisation related to data sharing and use, particularly with regard to encouraging SMEs to participate in this work. This can be done by, for example, establishing common industrial projects in industries where the potential to increase value creation using data is largely unrealised. This is happening today in the building and construction industry and the petroleum industry, among others.

For example, work on AI activities is being conducted in the standardisation organisations ISO and EIC, and at European level in CEN and CENELEC. Standard Norway has created a mirror committee in this area (SN/K 586 Kunstig intelligens). The committee is composed of representatives from research, business and industry, national authorities and various interest groups. Standard Norway currently has a number of such national mirror committees in the areas of data and digitalisation.

Electronic communication networks

Many of Norway’s most important industries are located along the coastline, such as the seafood, aquaculture, oil, energy and maritime industries. Good infrastructure for electronic communication, such as networks for fixed and mobile broadband, have significance for competitiveness, value creation and employment throughout the country. Good broadband infrastructure is critical for many emerging industries that are driven by digitalisation, such as the data centre industry. The fibre infrastructure has been strengthened in recent years, in part through establishment of several new international connections.

The Government will continue to pursue its market-based approach to broadband policy. The private sector is investing considerable amounts in Norwegian mobile and broadband networks; more than NOK 12 billion in 2019. The Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation provides states subsidies to fund broadband rollout in areas where commercial rollout is considered unprofitable.

The size of the annual state aid for broadband deployment has been larger under the current government than under the previous one. This reflects the increasing importance of digital infrastructure. Many municipalities and regions spend considerable amounts on subsidising broadband deployment in sparsely populated areas where rollout is not commercially viable.

Building and construction work, such as excavation, account for a large share of the costs of broadband deployment. Measures to reduce the cost of broadband deployment can therefore ensure profitability in deployment projects, and thereby greater coverage and better offerings in new areas.

The Broadband Development Act (bredbåndsutbyggingsloven) came into force on 1 July 2020. This legislation is intended to make it simpler for developers to access existing infrastructure like utility poles and pipes, thereby reducing the complexity and cost of further developing the broadband. The Government expects that this will speed up the development of high-capacity networks and give Norwegian citizens more broadband at a lower cost. The Norwegian Communications Authority (Nkom) will develop a website to provide information about such existing infrastructure and planned building works.

Development of fifth generation mobile networks (5G)

International comparisons show that Norway’s mobile networks are among the best in the world.4

Deployment of fifth generation (5G) mobile networks is especially important for the data economy. 5G can contribute to new solutions and increased productivity in all sectors of society. Many services are already provided over 4G, but 5G will facilitate even more services that require extremely high speeds/capacity, low latency and that can handle a large number of connected devices. This will make it possible to provide services such as support for autonomous vehicles, remote surgery on patients and industrial applications. A latency rate as low as 1 millisecond (one thousandth of a second) is an important property in contexts like these.

5G will facilitate machine-to-machine (M2M) communication on a far larger scale than has been possible up until now. M2M has many different applications, such as sensor networks, energy monitoring, equipment tracking, smart homes, smart cities and intelligent transport services. This is particularly important for realising the Internet of Things (IoT).

It is therefore important that 5G also is deployed outside of central urban areas. In 2021 the Government launched a regional package for high-speed broadband. This can amount to over half a billion Norwegian kroner in a targeted investment in fast, wireless broadband in areas where such services do not exist today. This is done by offering 5G network providers discount on the attractive frequencies needed to roll out 5G if they roll out broadband capacity in sparsely populated areas.

The Government presented a white paper on electronic communication in the spring of 2021.5

4.2.3 Trust, data ownership and usage rights

Data sharing in the business sector is usually conducted via established value chains within the same business or industry. The arrangement is based on trust, cooperation and interdependence. A key driver of data sharing is the opportunities it offers companies for growth and enhanced competitiveness.

Basically, all businesses own their own data, and it is up to them to decide how they will be used. Good information management and information security are important to ensure that each business has an overview of what data it possesses, which data can be shared, and which data must be protected for reasons for privacy, security, intellectual property rights or commercial interests. One of the reasons why businesses do not share their data with other businesses is the fear of making mistakes. This fear is particularly related to improper management of personal data and potential violations of the General Data Protection Regulation, but also to protection of trade secrets.

Many businesses are also uncertain about how much scope they have to share data they have obtained from external sources, and what responsibility they may have for use of the data if they are shared with others. To avoid uncertainty about permits, the data should be issued with a licence clearly stating who may use the data and how they may be used. Business and industry should cooperate on developing standard licenses to resolve such issues.

It is not necessarily the case that the business collecting the data is the only one to benefit from them, or that benefit is only derived by businesses within the same value chain. For example, large amounts of data can be generated in connection with a vehicle. That data may be valuable to a number of stakeholders, such as the vehicle manufacturer, the parts supplier, the workshops that will maintain and repair the vehicle, the transport authorities, the insurance companies, and so forth. Moreover, the driving data are generated by a driver who may not necessarily be the owner of the vehicle. The challenge that may arise concerns questions about who owns what data, who should have access to them, and for what purpose they should be allowed to use them. This is becoming increasingly relevant as more and more products and machines are installed with sensors that are connected to the internet and the amount of data collected grows. Thus, ownership and usage rights are important issues in the data-driven economy.

A study was conducted on the issue of data ownership in the agricultural and seafood industries.6 The study shows that, on a detailed level, ownership of data is not immediately clear when data are shared and reused. Among other things, the line is blurred between the producer of the raw commodity (the farmer or fish farmer) and the industry that processes the raw commodities. The lines between these businesses and the technology providers are also blurred, as well as between the public sector, the farmer, the fish farmer and industry. The situation is further complicated by the fact that some companies regulate ownership of data in agreements on the use of products and services, which may not relate to the actual data flow and data processing. The report concluded that the general principle should be that ownership of data should follow the processes and products that initially generate the data. In other words, data on agricultural products belong to the farmer and data on fish to the fish farmer. The parties are continuing the work on defining principles for data ownership on a more detailed level. Industry initiatives, such as this example from agriculture and aquaculture, can help reduce the uncertainties many have around these issues.

Protecting intellectual property rights

The more enterprises that cooperate on sharing and using each other’s data, the greater the level of complexity. In a data value chain involving multiple enterprises there are often issues with clarifying ownership and access to data, as well as questions around usage rights.

Protecting intellectual property rights is important to ensure that the market for the data-driven economy develops in the right way. It is unfortunate if it is not clear to all who owns the data, how they are licensed, and how access to the data is granted, i.e. whether they are free of charge or must be paid for. Most of these challenges can be resolved through agreements between the parties, where ownership and access and usage rights are clarified in the contractual agreement. However, some value chains can be so complex that drawing up and complying with agreements can prove extremely difficult.

In Germany, a framework for data sharing in the industry sector, International Data Spaces, was established as part of the Industry 4.0 initiative. The framework has been expanded to industry sectors in other countries, and SINTEF has enabled Norwegian companies to use the framework in Norway. The framework offers a common infrastructure for the secure storage of industrial data. The framework gives companies control of their own data while enabling them to share them if they wish to do so.

The Government wants Norwegian companies to make informed and competent decisions regarding protection, use and enforcement of their intellectual assets and rights, and to have a professional approach to the way they handle the rights of others. Norwegian companies should have the increased market access and value creation which professional protection and use of copyright law can afford them. Having their ownership rights protected can prove extremely important for companies, especially in connection with internationalisation. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries has begun mapping competence levels and needs related to intellectual property rights in Norwegian industry, and will assess whether the guidance provided in the system of policy instruments is adequate.

Expert group on private sector data sharing

The Government will appoint an interdisciplinary expert group on private sector data sharing. The group will consider solutions and make recommendations on how to clarify challenges relating to responsibility, ownership and usage rights for industrial data in the private sector and in data value chains when public and private entities cooperate, for example in public-private sector development initiatives. The work is being initiated by the Government, but will be carried out by the private sector in cooperation with relevant actors from the public sector, the private sector and research communities.

The work must be viewed in connection with the Government’s measures in the national strategy for artificial intelligence regarding development of guidelines on how public agencies should deal with ownership rights when cooperating with the private sector on artificial intelligence. The EU’s proposal for the Data Act, which is due to be published in the third quarter of 2021, will also have significance for this work. The proposed legislation is part of the European Commission’s follow-up of its data strategy. It aims to facilitate access to and use of data, including business-to business and business-to-government, and to review the rules on the legal protection of databases.

4.3 Data sharing within industries important for Norway

Norway has several industries where data are shared to create value. Some of these industries are world leading and have cooperated on data sharing for many years, whiles others have only just started. These data-sharing initiatives demonstrate the huge potential in creating value with data as a resource.

In the private sector, data are shared mainly through exclusive cooperation and within existing value chains. Such sharing is voluntary and is motivated by business opportunities. Data can be bought and sold between the companies, and access to them can be obtained through subscription plans or other payment models. The businesses can also make use of public sector information. There are also examples of private enterprises making datasets openly available to everyone free of charge.

Cooperation organised by trade associations and/or operated by the leading companies in established value chains are important for creating infrastructure and standards for data sharing. In some cases, public authorities facilitate such cooperation, either because the public sector plays a central role with respect to the industry in question or because access to public sector resources or public register data is important for success.

Textbox 4.2 Public-private partnerships on sector development

A significant part of the Government efforts to simplify business-government interaction consists of facilitating socio-economically profitable public-private partnerships in certain business sectors. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries acts as facilitator, with the Brønnøysund Register Centre providing operative support for information management. The concept is known as public-private partnerships on sector development (offentlig-privat sektorutvikling (OPS)), and places emphasis on business development based on value-driven digital transformation. Representatives from business and industry take the lead in these initiatives. The priority sectors are currently finance, aquaculture, agriculture, energy, building, construction and real estate and fisheries.

4.3.1 The oil and gas industry

The oil and gas industry is important for Norway. Even in 2020, with low oil prices and a global economy affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, this sector accounted for 11 per cent of Norway’s total value creation. The industry is one of the country’s biggest regional industries, with around 210,000 direct and indirect employees.

Diskos National Data Repository

In cooperation with the public sector, the oil companies operating on the Norwegian continental shelf have established the Diskos National Data Repository. Diskos is a national database containing information that is extremely important for the oil and gas industry. Seismic, well and production data are stored in Diskos. The database was established in 1995 by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and oil companies operating in Norway. The large datasets stored in Diskos provide a unique basis for analyses that can make new oil or gas discoveries possible. Furthermore, users are assured that the quality of the data meets a pre-agreed standard and can be retrieved in a pre-agreed format.

All the members have access to their own data and to data belonging to production licences in which they are licensees. They also have access to a large volume of non-confidential data. The Diskos platform also allows the companies to exchange or trade data with each other. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate also encourages companies with production licences that are drilling in the same geological formation, to exchange relevant data.

In recent years Diskos has also extended membership to other enterprises than the oil companies, known as associated members. Research communities from universities and university colleges in Norway and abroad have also been given access to the database in recent years.

Work is currently under way to further develop Diskos. The aim is to create a scalable and flexible solution that will facilitate more efficient use of data. The inclusion of analytical tools based on machine learning and artificial intelligence is considered, as this may help members derive even more value from existing data.

Figure 4.2 Aker Solutions Digital World

Figure 4.2 Aker Solutions Digital World

Photo: Aker Solutions

Other initiatives on private sector data sharing

Northern Lights is a joint venture between Equinor, Shell and Total. Well data have been made available under the project via Equinor’s OMNIA platform. The released data provide partners, suppliers and academia with access to the most recent datasets. This enables them to contribute ideas and digital solutions that will help accelerate decarbonisation of the world’s energy systems.7 The data can be downloaded via APIs and are free of charge.

In 2018 Equinor, together with the Volve licence partners, released all subsurface and production data from the Volve field. The data were made freely available via APIs. It was the first time this type of data had been made available in this manner.8

Through the Open Industrial Data project, Aker BP and Cognite make real-time data from a compressor in the Valhall field in the North Sea available via an open API. The idea behind sharing industrial data in this way is to accelerate innovation in areas such as condition monitoring and advanced visualisation techniques.

Equinor and Shell have signed a memorandum of understanding on development of digital solutions and methods through the exchange of expertise within areas like data science, artificial intelligence and 3D printing. The companies are already collaborating closely in the Open Subsurface Data Universe (OSDU) programme and the associated OSDU Forum. The latter is an international forum which cooperate on developing an open standards-based data platform that will bring together exploration, development and well data. The cooperation grew from the recognition that the industry can achieve more value creation by making better use of data across business sectors.

4.3.2 The maritime industry

The Norwegian maritime industry comprises shipowners, shipbuilders, equipment suppliers and specialist service providers. In 2018 the industry created value of around NOK 89 billion and had approximately 84,000 employees throughout the country.9

In its white paper on the maritime industry10 the Government presented an overall perspective of digitalisation in the maritime industry. Digitalisation is one of the major drivers for change the industry is facing in this decade. Autonomous vessels and cyber security are particularly important areas in this work.

Digitalisation and automation are becoming increasingly relevant in the maritime industry in the form of automated processes on board vessels and more integrated systems. This creates opportunities for optimising operations and improving communication and safety. Increased digitalisation may affect trading patterns, production methods, monitoring and operations in the sector. Digitalisation in the maritime industry will lead to more data which can be used for purposes such as machine learning. This can result in more efficient, safe and environmentally friendly shipping, as well as increased value creation. The development of digital solutions for regulatory supervision of the industry will also be important for a competent and efficient shipping administration.

As part of the work on following up the white paper on the maritime industry the Government will conduct a study to identify ways to facilitate increased digitalisation in the maritime industry. Digitalisation will also be given priority in the Government’s future focus on maritime competence, research, development and innovation.

Initiatives for cooperation and data sharing in the maritime industry

Ships have become increasingly complex over the past few decades, with far more software, and with integration between technical systems supplied by a range of different suppliers. It is challenging to ensure optimal interaction between the different components without being able to simulate how they work together; for example, to assess the potential impacts of upgrading or changing a single component.

The Maritime Data Space project is a good example of collaboration across the maritime industry. The solution is being jointly developed and operated by Wilhelmsen Ship Management, NAVTOR, DNV, Goodtech and SINTEF. The solution offers maritime enterprises from all parts of the value chain to share and exchange data while still retaining ownership of their respective data.

There are also examples of established enterprises creating their own digital platforms and associated services based on data-driven business processes as part of their core activities. Platforms like Veracity from DNV and Kognifai and Vessel Insight from Kongsberg Digital are examples of this. These platforms contain typical data and analytical tools that can be used by customers to make optimal use of their own data.

Ship models and digital twins

The maritime industry has long traditions in using ship models for optimising ship design and testing stability. The concept of digital twins bears similarities to such models. Digital twins are digital replicas of physical objects, such as vessels, usually with additional data that says something about context, production and other information. Such digital twins can be used to optimise design, build and operate vessels, and to simulate interaction between components.

Figure 4.3 Digital twin

Figure 4.3 Digital twin

Photo: Open Simulation Platform

Textbox 4.3 Open Simulation Platform

The Open Simulation Platform (OS) is an open-source industry initiative. OSP will provide the industry with tools and processes for the construction and maintenance of digital twins for system integration, testing and verification. The idea is to make it possible to simulate maritime equipment, systems and ships.

OSP will make it possible to reuse simulation models across organisations without exposing sensitive trade secrets by protecting the models and software inside a ‘black box’. The project will also develop standards for connecting models and control systems for co-simulation.

The work on OSP was started in 2017 by DNV, Kongsberg Maritime, SINTEF and NTNU, and has since been expanded to include several international partners. Some of the technical development of OSP takes place in projects supported by the Research Council of Norway.

Source Open Simulation Platform.

4.3.3 The aquaculture industry

The aquaculture industry is the country’s second-largest industry. In 2019 Norway exported seafood to a value of NOK 107.3 billion, and the industry and the related supply industry provides 44,000 jobs, most of them outside the large cities.

Aquaculture has traditionally involved manual labour. In 2001 the aquaculture industry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, established Havbruksdata (Aquaculture data), which was subsequently incorporated into BarentsWatch; see Box 5.2. As a result, the industry has increasingly used data to improve fish farmers’ ability to monitor, control and document fish farming processes. Steady growth in production volumes, stricter requirements from authorities and consumers, and increasing global competition have brought about rapid developments in automation and new technology. The industry has moved from a situation where a few manual measurements were taken daily to one where continual streams of data are obtained from sensors around the clock, all year round. This creates many new opportunities as well as demands for new and modern technology. It also demands new types of competence and new ways of collaborating on data. Sensors for automatic data capture that are transmitted from the fish farms and the environment to a cloud service platform will become key technologies, as will development and use of artificial intelligence that can provide new insight.

Figure 4.4 AI for combating salmon lice

Figure 4.4 AI for combating salmon lice

Photo: Clarify by Searis

The aquaculture industry is in a unique position with respect to the value of sharing and collaborating on data. Both small and large companies have equipment in the same fjords and use the same operating methods, and therefore face the same challenges. These require joint efforts and measures. Long-term growth in the industry will depend on information sharing and on technology that can support sustainable farming practices and management of resources.

Textbox 4.4 NCE Seafood Innovation Cluster

The Norwegian Centre of Expertise (NCE) Seafood Innovation Cluster is recognised as one of the world’s most complete industry clusters and knowledge hubs in the seafood industry. The cluster comprises 70 partners representing a total of 150 small and medium-sized enterprises. The cluster is concentrated in Hordaland, but is represented along the entire Norwegian coastline and in international seafood regions.

Public-private sector development in the seafood industry: OPS Sjømat

The seafood industry wishes to strengthen its competitiveness through increased access to information for the purposes of innovation, rationalisation, resource management and profitability. Through the public-private sector development initiative, the authorities will have far easier access to the information they need to supervise the industry and conduct policy formation properly and efficiently.

One of the focus areas in the collaboration is data sharing. More accessible high-quality data will contribute to increasing value creation in the industry. Good and relevant data will provide better decision support and enable the industry to operate more sustainably. Documented sustainability will also create a competitive advantage in a market where this is in increasing demand.

The initiative for data sharing via OPS Sjømat is called Sjømatdata (Seafood Data). The initial aim of Sjømatdata is to establish a well-functioning data sharing service for the seafood industry that is owned by the industry’s interest groups. Data collected at individual fish farms can have a range of applications of value to the facility itself, to neighbouring facilities and public administration, as well as to research communities and commercial developers.

Textbox 4.5 AquaCloud

AquaCloud is an example of collaboration on data sharing by enterprises from the seafood supply industry. AquaCloud will develop guidelines and protocols for data and data exchange based on open standards in three main areas: sensor data, environmental data and fish health data. This will achieve, for example, early warning of increases in sea lice, algae populations or impending critical weather conditions.

The current lack of high-quality data from the industry is preventing software developers and other companies from generating new innovations and products based on data. Simpler access to data through AquaCloud APIs will increase the number of new solutions and lower the threshold for innovation.

4.3.4 Agriculture

Norwegian agriculture is important for sustaining food security, value creation, settlement and cultural landscapes. There are agricultural properties throughout the country, covering a total area of more than three quarters of the mainland. Norway is a country with high cost of living, and with a climate and topography that affect the economy in food production. These cost disadvantages mean that Norwegian food production must become more efficient if it is to be competitive, while preserving the distinctive character of Norwegian food production.

Agricultural technology: agritech

Agritech is the use of technology in agriculture aimed at improving yields, efficiency and profitability. These solutions will in many cases also be more sustainable. Norwegian farmers have been good at adopting new technology in order to optimise their production. Technological development, including new machinery and automation, has increased productivity, saved labour and changed agricultural practices. Along with national production of new agricultural machinery, research and development have been important for the innovation and adoption of new technology that have taken place in Norwegian agriculture. Norwegian agriculture is highly mechanised by global standards.

A survey conducted by NIBIO11 shows a clear potential to enhance competitiveness in the fruit and vegetable sector through automation, for instance using mobile robots for plant treatment. There are already examples of such robots developed in Norway, including Thorvald, a robot developed at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). This autonomous agricultural robot is battery powered and is the first step towards electrifying the agricultural vehicle fleet.

In addition to data on agricultural activities in Norway, it is important to have good data on input factors that are produced in other countries and used in Norwegian agriculture, for instance soya. Information about how the soya is produced is important for an agriculture that aims to be sustainable, so that it does not contribute to deforestation or harm other ecosystems. Through the climate and forest initiative, Norway has supported several tools that contribute to sustainable land in general, and to combating deforestation in tropical countries in particular.

Textbox 4.6 Satellite images to combat deforestation

In the autumn of 2020, the Ministry of Climate and Environment entered into a contract to buy high-resolution satellite images of land areas in tropical countries. Every month, new images are delivered and made available to everyone: authorities, academia, business and industry, indigenous peoples and to the population in general. This will give everyone the opportunity to see and use the information about what is happening in the forests in the tropics.

Another tool Norway has supported is TRASE, which analyses the value chain for trade with agricultural commodities from tropical countries. Information about specific commodities is linked to deforestation. These data provide valuable information about the risk of deforestation in specific value chains, and enable buyers to make informed choices about what they buy and what risk they run of contributing to deforestation.

Public-private sector development in the agricultural industry: OPS Landbruk

OPS Landbruk aims to increase the agricultural industry’s competitiveness and modernise public administration in the sector through collaborating on digitalisation. The initiative is a broad collaboration between players the agricultural industry and public sector enterprises.

The following initiatives are already under way:

  • Consent-based access to data for production subsidies: This is a solution for forwarding information on subsidy payments from the Norwegian Agriculture Agency’s systems directly into the farmer’s accounting system, subject to the farmer’s consent. The agricultural industry, the companies supplying the accounting systems and Altinn have contributed.

  • Study of legal, ethical and competition ‘rules’ for ownership of data in Norwegian agriculture: A study conducted in cooperation with the agricultural and seafood industries.

  • Farmer’s dashboard: Making available/sharing data and developing infrastructure for the purpose of providing the farmer and the farmer’s business partners with better, more cohesive decision support and more efficient and user-friendly work processes. The measure is funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme.

  • Digital applications for agricultural loans: Applications for agricultural loans with consent-based access to private and public data (for example, production data, financial data, tax data, subsidy data, and so forth).

A mapping of relevant digitalisation activities in the sector, both public and private, is also in progress. Innovation, simplification and digitalisation measures should support ambitions and goals for agriculture: to produce high-quality food to a growing population and improve profitability for farmers and the agricultural industry.

Landbrukets dataflyt (Agricultural Data Flow)

Traditionally there has been little sharing of data in Norwegian agriculture, such as across livestock and plant production or between agricultural production and accounting or financial institutions. Collaboration on data sharing between different parts of the agricultural industry has developed over the past decade through the establishment of Landbrukets dataflyt (Agricultural Data Flow). Landbrukets Dataflyt handles the operative coordination of measures under OPS Landbruk. and has developed solutions that allow farmers, suppliers, accountants, banks, public agencies, research institutions and other parties to share data digitally via software interfaces (APIs). Machine-to-machine authentication has also been developed, for example for milking robots. This marks the beginning of an IoT register in the agricultural industry, where data flow and data ownership related to IoT can be connected with individuals and companies.

Agricultural Climate Calculator

The Agricultural Climate Calculator was launched in October 2020. The climate calculator is a digital tool that was specifically developed for the agricultural industry and Norwegian farmers; see Figure 4.5 It gives farmers an overview of emissions and of available measures to reduce emissions and to bind farm-level carbon. The goal is that as many farmers as possible will use the calculator. The first commodities available in the calculator are milk, grain and pigs. The other commodities will follow consecutively.

Landbrukets dataflyt (Agricultral Data Flow) has developed and will operate the climate calculator on commission from Landbrukets Klimaselskap SA.

The calculator and the system for climate-smart agriculture are based on the HolosNOR calculation model and on Landbrukets Dataflyt’s infrastructure for collecting and sharing agricultural data. The farmers themselves decide whether or not emissions from their farms are calculated, and consent to data being retrieved by other parties and systems via Landbrukets dataflyt.

Figure 4.5 Agricultural Climate Calculator

Figure 4.5 Agricultural Climate Calculator

4.3.5 The health industry

The health industry comprises businesses that develop and produce goods and services for use in public and private health and care services or in disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. The value created in the health industry is around three per cent of the mainland economy, and the industry provided around 100,000 jobs in 2016.

Norway has some of the world’s most comprehensive and complete health registers, with data dating far back in time. Easier access to health data can contribute to business development of new, better and more efficient solutions, for example in pharmaceuticals or diagnostics.

New technology, combined with good health data, make it possible to realise ambitions to have a more efficient health service and simultaneously create a basis for business development. Technological development in artificial intelligence and big data analytics create new opportunities for analysis, research and development. Use of artificial intelligence, together with large amounts of health data, can also contribute to improving health and care services and to providing a better basis for research and innovation. Tasks which up to now have required a human operator can be done qualitatively better, faster and cheaper by machines with the help of technologies such as artificial intelligence. Treatment can become more personalised, with lower risk and fewer side effects.

Because health information is almost always linked to a person and can often be highly sensitive, the threshold for sharing it is high. To make it easier for both researchers and others to gain access to this type of data without compromising privacy, the Government has approved the establishment of a separate platform that will make access to health data easier and more efficient.

The health analysis platform will help improve health research, strengthen the basis for knowledge-based health and care services, and stimulate innovation and business development. The platform will facilitate advanced analyses across different data sources. It will gradually be developed to serve as a public and commercial ecosystem of analytic services for users of health data. The health analytics platform is discussed in more detail in chapter 5.

Textbox 4.7 Real-world data

Real-world data is a collective term for the collection of all types of data from the health sector that are not included in randomised clinical studies. Norway has good sources for real-world data in the form of registers and biobanks. The advantages of real-world data are that they cover all patients who have received treatment and can be followed over time. This means that the effects of new treatments can be seen and compared with established treatments. They also make it possible to say something about outcome measures and to capture side effects. This can form a basis for initiating new clinical studies and for evaluating the use of resources. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health will also examine whether such data can be used in method evaluations in the future.

A pilot project, INSPIRE, has been launched by the pharmaceuticals industry in collaboration with the Cancer Registry to develop real-world data on lung cancer. Solutions will be developed for reporting drug treatment in hospitals to the Cancer Registry. This can provide information of great value to industry and the public sector.

Better use of health data, including real-world data, is a key focus area in the Government’s national action plan for clinical studies (Nasjonal handlingsplan for kliniske studier), which was launched in January 2021.

Source Ministry of Health and Care Services.

4.3.6 Building and construction industry

The building and construction industry provides over 250,000 jobs and has an annual turnover of around NOK 600 billion.12 The industry comprises activities related to construction, renovation, rehabilitation, maintenance and demolition of buildings, as well as to the building and rehabilitation of installations. It also comprises goods and services needed to perform building and construction work, such as the building materials industry, architectural services and consulting engineering.13 The industry is spread throughout the country.

In surveys measuring the level of digitalisation, the building and construction industry performs worse than many other industries. The Productivity Commission’s first report indicates that the level of innovation in the building and construction industry is lower than in other industries, and productivity growth has been low compared with other industries.14 The Commission points out that the supply of reasonably priced labour through immigration has made digitalisation and automation less profitable than in other industries.

Data and digitalisation as a policy instrument for sustainability

From 2013 to 2019, the Government cooperated with the industry and the authorities on the Bygg21 (Build21) initiative. Central industry operators participated in developing strategies to realise the building and real estate industry’s potential for productivity and sustainability. The aim was knowledge dissemination and sharing of best practice, and 470 companies have signed up to support the use of best practice for a more sustainable, productive and cost-effective industry, as defined by Bygg21.

In recent years the Federation of Norwegian Construction Industries has actively participated in efforts to increase the level of digitalisation in the industry. In October 2020 it published a roadmap to digitalisation15describing the need for an industry-wide boost to digitalisation and giving concrete advice to managements seeking to digitalise. The building and construction industry is data poor in the sense that it has not yet accumulated enough operating data to form a basis for big data and algorithm-based solutions and services.

The individual parts of the industry are in different phases of digitalisation, though they all have a need for digital competence and to digitalise administrative tasks.

In a future circular economy, there will be a greater need to satisfy requirements for traceability and for documentation of materials and properties included in building projects. Building information modelling (BIM) is an important tool for achieving this. In the EU’s circular economy action plan, building and construction is singled out as one of seven priority areas. Furthermore, the European Commission highlights digitalisation as an important prerequisite for circular solutions and for achieving the climate targets. Development of data systems that can provide overviews of material and waste streams, and digital solutions that make data available across value chains and industries will be critical to increasing circularity. The Government will present a national strategy for the circular economy in 2021.

Another priority area for the Government is to facilitate fossil-free building and construction sites by 2025. Documentation and data sharing will be important for achieving that goal.

Textbox 4.8 Building information modelling

Building information modelling (BIM) models are based on open, international standards for data storage, terminology and descriptions of business processes. BIM can make building processes more efficient, automate building application processes and facilitate smart application of ICT in the buildings themselves. When all elements in a building are described using BIM, models can be used to estimate greenhouse gas emissions when assessing choice of materials, floor plans, heating systems and other elements that affect a building’s total greenhouse gas emissions. In this way, buildings can be made as climate-friendly and sustainable as possible.

Through the large public-sector construction clients, such as the Norwegian government’s building commissioner, property manager and developer Statsbygg and The Norwegian Defence Estates Agency, the public sector is a key driver of development of digital models and sustainable buildings. Sustainability is determined by environmental impacts and by the social and economic aspects of a building’s entire life cycle. Statsbygg has been setting BIM requirements in all its projects since 2011.

Figure 4.6 Use of BIM

Figure 4.6 Use of BIM

Photo: Statsbygg/Trond Isaksen

Public-private sector development in the building and construction industry: Opptrinn

Opptrinn is a public-private sector development initiative aimed at facilitating smarter collaboration between public administration and the building and construction industry. Data will be connected in new ways to create more efficient as well as new, improved and simpler services.

An example of a challenge in the building industry is the fight against work-related crime and companies that disregard rules and regulations. Many solutions have been examined and proposed for obtaining sufficient information on companies, employee skills and on who performed work on a given property. Even though the public sector has such information, the actual sharing of it has proved problematic for various reasons. Concepts that can enable this information to be shared will go a long way in the fight against disreputable and criminal actors.

Opptrinn will build a portfolio of different projects. One of the first will deal with simplifying the buying and selling of commercial real estate through a self-service estate agency package. Data from different public registers, such as the Norwegian Mapping Agency and the municipality, will be connected to the plot and the property in new and simpler ways.

Opptrinn will be driven by the needs of the industry and the users. Important aspects of this will be to examine how the BIM model can be better used, what tasks in the industry can be automated, what new business models this can create, and so forth.

The Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation wants to facilitate sustainable consumption, reuse and digitalisation in the building, construction and real estate industries. The ministry is therefore in the process of establishing a national council for better cooperation between the industry and the government. The council will discuss what opportunities and challenges digitalisation of product information as a policy instrument will entail for Norway’s building and construction industry. The council’s goals will be to promote efficient digitalisation and collaboration in the industry and to drive and stimulate innovation, piloting and the sharing of best practices. Further development and use of open standards for product data will be one of several key focus areas.

4.3.7 The energy industry

The energy industry is an important sector in Norway. It covers production, transmission, trading and technological development in power and heat generation. In addition to creating immense value itself, the energy industry provides the basis for value creation in other sectors. The combination of good supplies of renewable energy and a well-functioning energy industry represents a competitive advantage for Norway.

The energy industry has been undergoing a comprehensive digitalisation process for several years now, e.g. through the introduction of smart meters. This has provided vast amounts of meter data that can be used to generate new insights.


In 2019 the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) established Elhub in cooperation with Statnett and the energy industry. Elhub is a central system for receiving, processing and distributing metering values in Norway. Elhub automates and digitalises the entire metering value chain in the energy market, from metering to billing customers. Elhub contributes to more efficient management of the increased amount of meter data resulting from the introduction of advanced metering systems (AMS). In addition to managing metering values, Elhub facilitates the automated exchange of information between grid companies and electricity providers. Every day, around 150,000 notifications of changes in customer data and other information are exchanged.

Through Elhub, energy suppliers and third-party providers of energy-related services receive information they can use in the services they deliver to the market. Third parties only have access to customer data if the customer gives consent. The introduction of Elhub facilitates more efficient management of services such as exchanging metering values and customer data, changes in energy suppliers and financial settlements between the enterprises. Elhub also enables new companies to develop solutions and services beyond those currently provided by more established companies.

Bigger and better datasets will also improve the Norwegian Energy Regulatory Authority’s supervision of the market and regulation of the grid companies. Elhub plays a key role in the transition to a low-carbon society with a high level of electrification. The increased amount of information resulting from the introduction of Elhub can enable end customers to consume energy more efficiently. Using electricity in new and smarter ways will also be important for ensuring efficient use of existing grids.

A joint digitalisation initiative for the energy industry

Energy Norway and the industry have established DIGIN, a joint initiative for digitalising the energy industry. DIGIN is a public-private sector development initiative and will form a basis for more efficient data exchange. A number of grid companies in addition to Statnett and Nettalliansen participate, with the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) as observer.

The aim of DIGIN is more efficient data exchange between all parties in the energy system in order to achieve mutual benefits that arise from new technologies and digital solutions. The initiative will establish the DIGIN model, a joint information model to increase digital collaboration between companies. The programme will also contribute to skills development and experience exchange in the industry. Everything that is developed under the DIGIN initiative will be available to all the grid companies and will benefit the industry.

To make it easier for the grid companies to invest in DIGIN, the Norwegian Energy Regulatory Authority has decided that investments in DIGIN will fall under the R&D framework programme. This is a funding scheme for research and development that will cover the grid companies’ costs for certain R&D projects. The aim of the scheme is to motivate grid companies to invest more in R&D.

4.3.8 Data centres: a growth industry in Norway

The steadily increasing amount of data has turned the data centre industry into the world’s fastest-growing energy-intensive industry. Abundant supplies of renewable energy at competitive prices, good fibre infrastructure, a cold climate and a stable regulatory environment make Norway well placed to become a leading data centre nation and to attract global data centres. Norwegian data centres have strengthened their position in the market for high performance computing (HPC) services. For example, Volkswagen has relocated simulation of its crash tests to Green Mountain’s data centre in Rjukan.

The Government launched a data centre strategy in 2018.16 It describes the general conditions that are particularly important for the industry, and gives an idea of how the data centres can contribute to greater value creation for Norway. The Government wants Norway to be an attractive host country for data centres and other data-centric businesses.

Norway is well placed to host a sustainable data centre industry. A recent analysis shows that Norway’s data centre industry already provides almost 2,000 jobs and that by 2025 it could provide more than 11,000 jobs all over the country. The analysis also shows that the data centre industry invested approximately NOK 2.7 billion in new centres in 2019 and 2020.17

In 2021 the Government published a new data centre strategy,18 as well as a guidance on how to establish a data centre in Norway aimed at international investors.19

4.4 General conditions for creating value from data

The public authorities play a key role in facilitating business development, and use a range of policy instruments to achieve it. The Government wants the established system of policy instruments for business development and innovation in the private sector to support new activity and increased value creation using data as a resource.

4.4.1 Access to capital, industrial policy instruments and exports

Access to capital is important for innovation and business development

Good and efficient access to capital is important for the reorganisation, innovation and development of business and industry. A well-functioning capital market efficiently brings together those who need capital with those who have it, and allows risk to be carried by those who are willing to assume it. The state also has policy instruments in the form of seed funds, loan capital, investment companies, and so forth. Under the EEA Agreement, Norway has largely the same rules for regulating the capital markets as the EU member states, and is subject to the principle of the free flow of capital in the EEA area.

In 2017 the Government appointed a commission to consider how access to capital through the Norwegian capital market functions. The Commission’s overall conclusion is that the Norwegian capital market largely works well.20 Projects and companies that are expected to be profitable generally receive sufficient and appropriate financing. Nonetheless, there is room for improvement in some areas, such as in the channelling of available capital and in connecting seekers and suppliers of capital more efficiently. The Commission also points out that there are few new large growth companies, which may be due to limited access to capital. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries is considering and following up the Commission’s recommendations.

Business-oriented policy instruments

The underlying assumption is that companies and businesses invest less in research and development than what is profitable for society. Public authorities therefore facilitate innovation in the form of subsidies and other schemes as part of the Norwegian research and innovation system. Several policy instruments currently exist that promote research and development in the commercialisation of data as a resource. Support for the early phase, where more emphasis is placed on research and research-based innovation, is usually provided through the Research Council of Norway.

For businesses which tend not to consider data and data analytics as part of their core activity, investments in this can be perceived as unduly large and the threshold for getting started too high. A survey conducted for the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation shows that many businesses now consider funding a major barrier to implementing digitalisation projects.21

Innovation Norway’s main purpose is to trigger business development that is profitable from both a commercial and an economic perspective. The organisation administers a range of policy instruments to stimulate restructuring. Financial contributions and guidance from Innovation Norway will also help stimulate business opportunities in the regions. Innovation Norway’s policy instruments include both regional and sector specific schemes. Innovation Norway can also offer funding and networks for innovative digitalisation projects. The Government doubled the subsidy for innovation support to the business sector through Innovation Norway from NOK 7 billion in 2019 to NOK 14 billion in 2020.

The Industrial Development Corporation of Norway (Siva) facilitates innovation through infrastructure such as business gardens, incubators and initiatives such as the Norwegian Catapult scheme. The Norwegian Catapult scheme gives Norwegian industry access to test facilities in order to enhance innovation and value creation. NOK 125 million was allocated to the scheme in the 2019 national budget. Siva gave priority to further developing the catapult scheme in 2019, in cooperation with Innovation Norway and the Research Council of Norway. Investinor is a state-owned capital investor whose purpose is to improve access to capital in the early-stage market (that is, the market for investment capital for companies in the process of developing new products or processes).

Textbox 4.9 PILOT-E and Data-driven Road Construction Sites

PILOT-E is a collaborative funding scheme run by Enova, the Research Council of Norway and Innovation Norway that supports development of new emission-free technology in hydrogen-powered transport and building and construction activities.

The Data-driven Road Construction Sites project is one of four projects to receive support under this scheme. The project is led by Skanska, and its aim is to significantly reduce emissions by optimising driving patterns and utilisation of the machine fleet using artificial intelligence. The project will contribute to reducing emissions from existing construction sites and pave the way for the autonomous, zero-emission sites of the future. The solution it develops with be made available to other entrepreneurs in order to generate an effect beyond Skanska’s own activity.

Norwegian companies can apply for tax deductions on R&D costs under the broad scheme called SkatteFUNN. The scheme is rights-based, and has simple application processes and reporting requirements.

Forskerpool (Researcher Pool) is a scheme affiliated to SkatteFUNN. Through the scheme businesses can apply for up to 50 hours of assistance from a researcher to develop an idea or receive feedback on a problem. This scheme may be particularly relevant for SMEs, which often lack this type of in-house competence. For data-driven innovation, where there is a shortage of personnel with advanced skills, schemes like these can help more companies gain access to the expertise they need to start their projects or pilots.

Textbox 4.10 SkatteFUNN project: Offshore Simulation Centre

The Offshore Simulator Centre (OSC) in Ålesund is an example of a SkatteFUNN project. Ålesund is a pilot for the United Nations’ initiative for smart cities. OSC and the visualisation and simulation groups at Campus Ålesund have developed a digital tool that will contribute to better solutions for the city’s inhabitants.

Ålesund has a lot of data on the consumption of municipal services. Based on these data, OSC has made a digital twin of the city. This makes it possible to identify interactions and interdependencies and adapt the systems in order to create smart and sustainable solutions.

Offshore Simulator Centre AS has worked on technology for the maritime industry for many years, including digital twins in offshore activities. It is the competence from these industries that has now been transferred to the digital twin of Ålesund. Together with the new Ålesund municipality, Augment City AS, a newly formed subsidiary of Offshore Simulator Centre AS, will develop a tool for the UN that can be used to give politicians, businesses and citizens a better understanding of the consequences of their decisions and thus make them better placed to make good choices.

Figure 4.7 Digital twin of Ålesund

Figure 4.7 Digital twin of Ålesund

Photo: Offshore Simulation Centre AS / Zheng Wei

The national programme for Norwegian business clusters is funded by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation. Innovation Norway is responsible for administering the scheme together with the Research Council of Norway and Siva. The budget for the cluster programme for 2021 is NOK 217 million, and at the turn of the year 2020/2021 the programme had 39 clusters.

The clusters in the programme include established businesses, entrepreneurs, investors, knowledge communities and public-sector developers, and the members from the business sector take the lead. There should be clear potential synergies within the cluster and with external environments inside or across value chains and technologies. Examples of business clusters that have better use of data as a key component in their collaboration are Proptech Innovation and the Cluster for Applied AI. Proptech Innovation has 82 members, and most of its activities are in building and construction. The cluster wants to make the real estate industry smart and sustainable by using knowledge, efficient collaboration, smart technology, data and artificial intelligence. The Cluster for Applied AI has 39 members and 25 collaborative partners, and is based in Halden. The cluster’s vision is for the businesses to become leading, data-driven, effective and customer-centric through the development and use of AI.

A review of the business-oriented policy instruments was completed in January 2020. A key objective for following up the review is that it should stimulate value creation, business transformation and innovation within sustainable parameters.

Increased investment in exports will strengthen Norway’s position

Export credit and guarantee schemes help Norwegian businesses enhance their competitiveness in the international market. Norway’s export markets have long been showing signs of increasing protectionism, less predictable access to international markets and increasing competition. In 2019, IT services worth NOK 32 billion were imported to Norway, while Norway’s exports of IT services were valued at NOK 19 billion. This represents an export deficit of NOK 13 billion in Norway’s international trade in IT services, and the export deficit has more than doubled since 2015.22

International economic growth is accelerating in emerging markets, such as the platform economy and the data economy, while growth in Norway’s traditional and biggest export markets in Europe is low. There is therefore need for a stronger focus on exports and for closer collaboration between the public sector and the private sector on joint export promotion initiatives.

In October 2020 the Government launched The Norwegian Government’s action plan for export. The action plan is based on the Government’s export strategy from 2017, Strategy for export and internationalisation and on the goals and ambitions that were set out in that plan. The measures in the action plan should lead more competitive industries to start exporting goods and services that are in demand in the global markets. One of the measures in the action plan is to strengthen the cluster programme.

In the 2021 budget the Government is strengthening the focus on export promotion, and NOK 100 million has been allocated to follow up measures in the export action plan. This focus will contribute to more value-adding exports, including skill-intensive industries and companies that base their products and services on data-driven business models.

4.4.2 Norway’s participation the Digital Europe Programme

Norwegian business and industry and Norwegian expert communities should benefit from Norway’s participation in EU programmes. This requires active, coordinated and targeted participation from Norway. The EEA Agreement allows Norway to participate in major EU initiatives in research, innovation, digital transformation and infrastructure. Several of these initiatives have been, and will continue to be, significant in unleashing the potential of the data economy in Norway. In the national budget for 2021, funds were allocated to Norwegian participation in the Digital Europe Programme 2021–2027 (DIGITAL), the EU’s new investment and capacity-building programme for digital transformation and use of innovative digital technologies. Norway’s participation in DIGITAL is extremely important. The programme will give Norwegian companies and research communities access to collaborative partners and resources in AI, supercomputers, cyber security and advanced digital skills. It is unrealistic for Norway to build equivalent capacity and skills alone. Participation in the programme will therefore have major significance for Norway’s competitiveness in all industries, and will be a key input factor in strengthening Norway’s business sector, both local and regional.

The programme has a proposed budget of EUR 7.17 billion (in 2021 prices). Norway’s total contribution to DIGITAL is estimated at EUR 180 million (in 2021 prices), which is equivalent to approximately NOK 1.9 billion.

The aim of the programme is to establish the EU as a driver of the digital transformation and to promote future-oriented digital technologies that are expected to have significance for growth and employment in Europe in the coming years. Participation in DIGITAL will build on investments made in Horizon 2020 and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and Interoperability solutions for public administrations, businesses and citizens (ISA2) programmes in which Norway participated in 2020. This continued participation is extensive, and is related to developing and reinforcing capacities in five key areas: high performance computing, artificial intelligence, cyber security, advanced digital skills and interoperability and digital transformation.

Figure 4.8 The five key capacity areas in DIGITAL

Figure 4.8 The five key capacity areas in DIGITAL

Source European Commission

The key capacity areas are largely interconnected. DIGITAL will have a natural interface with other EU programmes, such as Horizon Europe. The European Commission emphasises that whereas Horizon Europe covers research and early-stage development, DIGITAL will focus on building digital capacities and implementing concrete common digital solutions.

The programme has the following objectives:

  • make Europe a world leader in high performance computing (HPC) by building an exascale computer and upgrading existing supercomputers

  • increase the use of artificial intelligence, particularly in the areas of health, climate and environment, transport, goods manufacturing and energy, and establish common European data spaces and testing and experimentation facilities

  • reinforce cyber security and trust by, among other things, establishing an infrastructure for quantum communication and a certification scheme for cyber security products

  • contribute towards development of more advanced skills to, among other things, address the lack of IT experts in Europe through master’s degree programmes in HPC, AI and cyber security

  • contribute to digital transformation in areas of public interest such as health and climate, and continue the work on interoperable solutions by, among other things, providing access to key digital technologies through European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH)

European Digital Innovation Hubs

Digital Innovation Hubs is a policy instrument that was launched by the European Commission in 2016 and created under Horizon 2020. The purpose was – and still is – to help small and medium-sized enterprises to digitalise faster. Four enterprises were given status as Norwegian Digital Innovation Hubs under Horizon 2020: SINTEF, Oslo Cancer Cluster, DigitalNorway and GCE NODE. All of them are active facilitators for SMEs.

A new generation of larger and more binding digital innovation hubs will be introduced in the transition to the new EU programmes for 2021–2027. These will be one-stop shops, and will cover a European ecosystem that can offer expertise and guidance. The EDIHs will contribute to enabling SMEs to participate in the digital transformation and leverage the potential of AI. Funding for the projects will come from the Digital Europe Programme, among others. The process of nominating national candidates for the EDIH scheme began in 2020. Innovation Norway facilitates this process in Norway.

The EDIH scheme and Norway’s catapult scheme share some common features. In Norway the clusters will be key participants in the hubs that are set up. One important task for the system of policy instruments will be to further develop complementarity between the hubs, the cluster programme and the catapult scheme.

Participation in EuroHPC

In 2017 the European Commission took the initiative to establish the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC), which is jointly funded by the Commission and national contributions. Norway participates in EuroHPC through its participation in the EU’s Horizon Europe programme and the Digital Europe Programme (DIGITAL). UNINETT Sigma2 in Norway collaborates closely with SINTEF and NORCE, the national competence centre for high performance computing in the EuroHPC partnership.

Some areas require high levels of information security while simultaneously allowing the data to be processed efficiently. Relevant examples are high-resolution MR images, DNA data, videos of patients and other sensitive data. Solutions for storing and processing such data are mainly provided through the Service for Sensitive Data (TSD), which is operated and developed through collaboration between the University of Oslo and UNINETT Sigma2.

Norwegian participation in Data for the Environment Alliance (DEAL)

A well-functioning digital ecosystem is vital for achieving global climate and environmental goals and more sustainable production and consumption. Building global digital ecosystems of environmental data demands broad cooperation between the private sector, academia and nation states. Estonia has taken the initiative to launch a global alliance, Data for the Environment Alliance (DEAL), and 22 countries from all regions have shown an interest. The Minister of Climate and Environment has endorsed Norway’s participation in the alliance. This is in line with the objective set out in Report no. 11 to the Storting (2019–2020) Digital transformation and development policy. In addition to collecting environmental data that are open, accessible, comparable and of high scientific quality, the objective is that such an alliance will contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by creating economic incentives for the private sector. The alliance will also contribute to the new area of work in the UN’s environmental programme, digital transformations.

4.4.3 Business development throughout the country

The Government wants thriving local communities and economically sustainable jobs throughout the country, and is working to promote regional balance through economic growth, equal living conditions and sustainable regions.23

The Official Norwegian Report on the importance of business for thriving and sustainable communities24 discusses the importance of digital infrastructure and digital skills for business development in the regions. In the coming years, digitalisation and better use of data will play a significant role in many typical regional industries, such as aquaculture and agriculture. Efficient use of digitalisation and data in these industries requires a well-developed digital infrastructure, not only where people live, but also where businesses are operating.

The government presented three strategies for regional development in the spring of 2021: a strategy for urban areas as regional power centres, a coastal strategy, and a strategy for the mountain and inland regions. Together these strategies aim to promote economic growth, equal living conditions and sustainable development in all regions of Norway.

Small and medium-sized enterprises

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for more than 99 per cent of Norwegian businesses. They are found in industries all around the country. These businesses are important for ensuring viable communities throughout the country and for employment and value creation in the regions. The SMEs often lack resources to take on assignments outside their core business.

In 2019 the Government launched its launched strategy for small and medium-sized enterprises.25 The Government’s ambition is to enable small and medium-sized enterprises to create sustainable growth and new jobs throughout the country, and to give them even better opportunities to efficiently produce the goods and services needed in a well-functioning society. Digitalisation and better use of data to operate smarter and more cost-effectively is an important means to achieving this aim.

4.5 The Government will

The Government will

  • use business-oriented policy instruments so that they support the value-creating potential which development of the data economy can have for business and industry and for society

  • appoint an interdisciplinary expert group on industrial data sharing that can develop guidelines on responsibility, ownership and usage rights

  • leverage Norway’s participation the Digital Europe Programme (DIGITAL) and the programme’s policy instruments, including initiatives for increased sharing of and valuation creation with data in different sectors of society

  • promote the work on international standardisation related to data sharing and use, particularly with regard to encouraging SMEs to participate in standardisation activities

  • revise the national strategy for data centres

  • present three new strategies for development of the regions in the spring of 2021

  • present a white paper to the Storting on the digital infrastructure



Meld. St. 18 (2018–2019) The health industry. Report to the Storting (white paper) Summary in English


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Byggkvalitetutvalget (2020) Forsvarlig byggkvalitet – Kompetanse, kontroll og seriøsitet


Meld. St. 27 (2016–2017) A greener, smarter and more innovative industry


Byggenæringens Landsforening (2020): Digitalt veikart 2.0. En anbefaling til ledere i byggenæringen [Digital roadmap 2.0: A recommendation to building industry leaders]


Nærings- og fiskeridepartementet (2018): Norge som datasenternasjon. Strategi [Powered by Nature – Norway as a data centre nation. Strategy]


Implement Consulting Group (2020): Datasentre i Norge – Ringvirkningsanalyse av gjennomførte og potensielle etableringer [Data centres in Norway: An analysis of the ripple effects of completed and potential establishments].Analysis commissioned by the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation


Kommunal- og moderniseringsdepartementet (2021): Norske datasenter – berekraftige, digitale kraftsenter [Norwegian Data Centres – sustainable, digital powerhouses]


Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation (2021): How to establish a data centre in Norway


NOU 2018: 5 Kapital i omstillingens tid – Næringslivets tilgang til capital [Capital in the age of transformation – Access to capital for Norwegian businesses]


KPMG (2020) Hindre for Hindre for digitalisering av forretningsprosesser [Barriers to digitalisation of business processes]. Survey commissioned by the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation


Samfunnsøkonomisk analyse (2021) Norges behov for IKT-kompetanse i dag og framover [Norway’s need for ICT competence today and in future]. Report 1-2021


Meld. St. 5 (2019–2020) Levende lokalsamfunn for fremtiden – Distriktsmeldingen [Thriving local communities for the future]


NOU 2020: 12 Næringslivets betydning for levende og bærekraftige samfunn [Thriving and sustainable communities – the role of business and industry]


Departementene (2019): Småbedriftslivet. Strategi for små og mellomstore bedrifter [Strategy for small and medium-sized enterprises]

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