2020 has been a different and challenging year. The coronavirus pandemic has presented businesses with major challenges, but we have also seen an increase in the rate of digitalisation. The Government has introduced a number of measures to meet the challenges and to ensure that our businesses are as adaptable and robust as possible.

Minister of Regional Development and Digitalisation Linda Hofstad Helleland.

Photo: Martin B. Andersson/Norwegian Ministries

In my role as Minister of Regional Development and Digitalisation I am keen to see economic development in all parts of the country, and I am confident that digitalisation will make it more attractive to live and work in rural areas. I want to facilitate the creation of more regional jobs in technology through our broadband policy and our work on data sharing in business and across the public and private sectors.

The coronavirus crisis has demonstrated that it is possible to work effectively and efficiently from places other than an office in the city. Thanks to good communication and collaboration platforms it is possible to work together without being together.

How can we make sure that we bring with us the best aspects of this period of coronavirus restrictions as we proceed to resume normal life? I believe that many people have started to think differently about digitalisation. Many of those who already had access to digital tools, but perhaps found it difficult to get going, have in a short period of time become experts in video conferencing and e-learning platforms.

In June 2020 I invited around 30 exciting businesses to attend a roundtable meeting. The participants represented important Norwegian sectors like health and social care, aquaculture, agriculture, tourism and ICT. The topic of our discussions: ‘How can the public sector contribute to digital business development, new opportunities for export, and job creation in the regions?’ Many of the contributions from this meeting are reflected in this document.

The time since 12 March 2020 has been difficult for many industries, while others have suddenly experienced a hike in demand. Yet others have found completely new market segments and business models as a consequence of the pandemic. I believe that we are facing a future with more flexible and varied forms of working, fewer commutes to work, and fewer business trips. Perhaps this will be a more people- and family-friendly jobs market, more cost effective and more sustainable!

This document is not an exhaustive overview of government policies with respect to the themes and sectors covered – whether before or after COVID-19. However, I hope it will serve to raise awareness of the opportunities that exist – by describing measures introduced by the Government and through the many case studies. The idea is to showcase initiatives that can contribute to or inspire digital business development in all parts of the country. I believe we can get better at highlighting good examples and applauding the success stories. That is exactly what I want this document to do!

Signatur for distrikts- og digitaliseringsminister Linda Hofstad Helleland.

Linda Hofstad HellelandMinister of Regional Development and Digitalisation