Næringslivet må delta mer i europeisk forsknings- og innovasjonssamarbeid

Under konferansen Horisont 2020 – Open for Business tok næringsminister Monica Mæland i sin innledning opp behovet for at norsk næringsliv i større grad deltar i europeisk forsknings- og innovasjonssamarbeid. Særlig gjelder dette samarbeidet i Horisont 2020.

Good morning Director Rouhana, colleagues and honoured guests. It is a great pleasure to see so many of you here today. I hope that you will find this conference to be both meaningful and inspiring. European research and innovation programmes and initiatives mean opportunities to make new ideas come to life. This is important to all of us. Research and innovation are keys to economic growth, and to our future prosperity.

For many decades, Norway has been "a land of oil and honey" - well, at least "of oil". However, due to recent global developments, activities in the Norwegian petroleum industry is reduced.

Norway's Productivity Commission recently delivered its second report, giving us a serious warning. Our future welfare depends on growth in productivity. Unfortunately, growth is leveling off. We must reverse this trend if we are to succeed in restructuring and creating new jobs. We now face a restructuring of our economy.  We need increased competitiveness and the ability to innovate. For this to happen we need new driving forces and we need new businesses as well as businesses that renew themselves. Nine of our ten largest companies are more than a hundred years old. Globally we see several key trends, trends that will influence and change Norway´s future industries.

So what must we do? The Productivity Commission had several observations and recommendations. Some of them have long been among the government's main messages: We must invest in research and innovation, and we need to be international. Research and innovation are therefore major driving forces for the restructuring of the Norwegian economy.  Mind the words here on the slide behind me from the rector of the University of Oslo: - Today we rely on the knowledge production in other countries.

I believe we must focus more on collaboration between different sectors, and on the development of smart technologies.  Use of existing technology in a new field is also innovation. We have several examples of this from the ocean space development. We see technology is being transferred from the oil industry for new use in the aquaculture industry and even further, such as in the health sector.

Bringing the public and private sectors closer together is a way to bridge the gap between research and innovation.

Industry must understand how important it is to combine forces with research institutes and universities as well as public providers. The collaboration will pay off in improved products and services, and a stronger position in the market.

Today we are going to place the spotlight on the numerous opportunities that we find outside of our borders. We want to mobilise the Norwegian business sector to look beyond our national borders towards the rest of Europe. Cooperating with likeminded partners in other countries opens up to achieve benefits. I cannot stress enough the importance of the international dimension.

Horizon 2020 is a dynamic research and innovation programme. The programme has increased emphasis on impact, internationally as well as domestically. Horizon 2020 began in 2014, and is constantly evolving and being adjusted.  The last period begins in 2018. I understand that preparations are already well underway for the next Framework Programme. I hope that we will hear more about them in Director Rouhana's speech, something I look forward to hearing. Here, in Norway, we have just begun a process to provide input regarding the next Framework Programme.

What should our priorities be? In this respect, we want an active dialogue with the Norwegian industry. There is room for improvement regarding Norwegian companies' participation. You have a voice, and you should use it actively! Small and medium-sized enterprises can strengthen competitiveness through projects developing skills across borders. What we see is that Norwegian small and medium sized businesses are performing well in EU programmes, less so for the larger companies. The larger Norwegian companies need a wake-up call. That is precisely one of the reasons we are here today! From the Norwegian side, there is also a desire to strengthen research and innovation clusters, both nationally and internationally, and to establish closer cooperation between related industries and businesses in Europe. However, the drive to go internationally and to do research and innovation must come from the companies themselves.  In other words – it is mainly up to you.

Before I conclude, I will say that I understand that the EU research and innovation landscape can at times seem overwhelming. However, do not forget that The Research Council and Innovation Norway are here to assist and guide you. I would therefore encourage you to listen very carefully to their presentations later this morning.

I wish you all the best in your future efforts.

Thank you for your attention!