Opening adress Innovation Day

Speech by State Secretary Dilek Ayhan at North Atlantic Seafood Forum, 4 March 2014.

*Sjekkes mot fremføring*

Good morning!

I am glad to see so many here today as we start the Atlantic Seafood Forum by addressing a very important topic; innovation in the marine industries.


Let me start by quoting the father of evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin:

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."

One thing is true:

Innovation is absolutely necessary for economic and social development.

In the long term, innovation is the strongest tool to achieve economic growth in our economies.


And the new Norwegian government have been quite clear:

  • We will base our policies on first creating values in order to share them.
  • And to create values, we will facilitate investment in innovation, research and development

Innovation, knowledge and technology are key priorities when we prepare ourselves to face international competition and solve social challenges.

The government´s long term ambition is therefore to make Norway one of Europe’s most innovative countries.


I suppose many of our foreign guests see a Norwegian economy fuelled by the high level of activity in our petroleum sector. This is - to a large extent – true. But if we have a future perspective, our most important asset is our knowledge and know-how.


In fact, our Ministry of Finance has estimated that the present value of our future employment constitute 81 percent of our national wealth.

By comparison our petroleum assets is merely eight percent.

Then it goes without saying that we have everything to gain by cultivating our knowledge and skills.

Or as our prime minister, Erna Solberg puts it: Knowledge is the new oil!

That is our future living.


And if we look into the crystal ball, some future developments are evident.

  • The global demand for food, energy and products will increase.
  • The world population will continue to grow and in the West this population will have greyer hair.
  • And finally; technological development will accelerate – and the need for knowledge increases as we are adopting new technologies faster than before,


Both the EU and the OECD point out the importance of increased utilization of renewable biological resources to solve these important challenges. Innovation is essential in producing more food, feed and products from the seas and oceans.

Solving these global challenges is one important reason why we are gathered to discuss innovation in the marine sector today.


The second reason is that forums like this meeting - for cooperation and knowledge development and exchange are fundamental to cooperation on issues that stretch beyond national interest and responsibility.


Norway is a blue nation. Norway’s  industrial development is based on hydropower, oil and gas, and living marine resources. Over the last 40 years, the Norwegian fisheries and aquaculture industry has achieved great progress. Following two years of declining seafood exports, 2013 showed strong growth and a new export record was set, with the value of seafood exports totaling 61 billion Norwegian Kroner in 2013. This is 17 percent up from 2012.


So far, we have only used a relative small share of our marine resources for food production. Only in Norwegian territorial waters it is estimated that there are more than 10 000 marine species we hardly know. There are good reasons to believe that some of these marine organisms have unique characteristics. Characteristics that can form the basis of  products and processes in a variety of areas. I am therefore glad to see more and more advocates for the opportunities of the oceans and how to pursue this development.


In the final declaration of the RIO+ 20 meeting,  marine resources was for the very first time pointed out as an important and vital resource for future food production. With scarcity of fresh water and land resources, the oceans must play a bigger part in providing enough food and energy for a growing world population.


In Norway, as well as worldwide several studies and reports underline the potential our seas and oceans offers in supplying more food and products from renewable resources. This growth will depend on many factors, like sustainability, healthy oceans, knowledge, innovation and market development.


Biotechnology offers a great potential in utilizing marine resources. I am glad to say that also Biotechnology is identified as an important potential research areas  in Horizon 2020. This is important in order to strengthen investments' in research in this field.


Dear friends of a blue growth!

The modern seafood sector is indeed a sector built on research, innovation and technological solutions. Research gives us the ideas and the knowledge we need for the days to come. And the suppliers of technology contribute to innovation and profitability.


Given sustainability, the industry play the most important role in developing new products and solutions built on new knowledge and technology. My government therefore puts greater emphasis on research and innovation to build an even more knowledge-intensive and future-oriented industry and business sector. This includes

  • strengthen public-sector research funding
  • strengthen research and development funding for industry
  • strengthen international alliances for research and industrial cooperation


Better science, process innovation and technology development are all elements that contribute to improve the utilization of the raw material and better management. This is essential in order to enable the marine sector to become an even stronger force in global food production as well as producer of health products and feed to mention some.


We are gathered here today to discuss and learn more about how the biological resources in our oceans may solve these crucial challenges facing the global community.

These are questions I will leave to the experts following me today, but I can assure you, from a governmental perspective, that we will do what we can.


Thank you for your attention!