6 Enabling and industrial technologies
Enabling technologies are basic technologies used to develop new solutions, products and processes in many applications areas and can lead to major changes in society. Historical examples include letterpress printing, the combustion engine and electricity. Norway’s activities in the enabling and industrial technologies encompass information and communications technology (ICT), nanotechnology, biotechnology and advanced production processes. The focus areas largely coincide with the programme «Leading Enabling and Industrial Technologies» under the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020.
A national initiative on the enabling and industrial technologies facilitates knowledge-based innovation and necessary restructuring in all parts of society. Enabling and industrial technologies have broad applications within many different sectors and industries and can be of use in dealing with major challenges in society and help to enhance the competitiveness of Norwegian trade and industry. Development in these technologies also facilitates new applications in advanced production processes through the Internet of Things, robotics and automation, virtual or augmented reality, Big Data, additive layer manufacturing and advanced biorefining and processing. This forms the basis for a wide array of new solutions and products.
Technology development is rapid and will continue to gain in importance. Research and development in the enabling and industrial technologies is a key instrument for achieving national objectives in many areas. The Government’s ambition is for Norway to be at the forefront of research, education and innovation in enabling and industrial technologies. This particularly applies in areas where we have strong academic and research groups, and where the technologies can promote business development or play a key role in resolving major societal challenges.
The enabling and industrial technologies are based on knowledge from different academic disciplines, and a cross-disciplinary approach is therefore necessary. Interdisciplinary perspectives, e.g. from the humanities and social sciences, can help to ensure that the development and use of the technologies takes place in a responsible manner. Educational programmes should also emphasise ethical awareness.
The interconnections between the different technology areas and with other academic disciplines such as applied and industrial mathematics have become stronger in recent years. This has led to the emergence of multiple convergent and to some degree ground-breaking technologies. Increasing convergence between different technologies and within advanced production processes means that the technology initiative must be sufficiently flexible to accommodate the rapid development in technology, including the development of disruptive technologies.
Over the next four-year period, the Government will increase allocations for education, research and innovation in technology by NOK 800 million, cf. Chapter 1.2. Relevant focus areas for the escalation plan include the enabling and industrial technologies, especially basic ICT research and ICT security. The Government’s technology initiative supports the long-term plan’s overall objectives and other long-term priorities.
The Government will:
employ capacity-building, competence development and development of research infrastructure to strengthen the basic framework for developing and utilising the enabling and industrial technologies;
design the initiative for the enabling and industrial technologies to support value creation, restructuring and advanced manufacturing in the business sector;
ensure that the initiative for the enabling and industrial technologies is focused on concrete societal needs, particularly with regard to digitalisation, the transition to a greener economy and renewal and improved services in the public sector;
facilitate greater convergence between the technology areas and interaction with other subject areas such as the humanities and social sciences.