Ladies and Gentlemen!
On behalf of the Norwegian government, thank you for inviting me here today.
Norway Day is an annual event in Brussels for the Norwegian research community and its European partners. This year's theme has been industrial research and new collaboration models between businesses, the public sector and academia.
In this context we have also discussed how we can create new jobs, growth and investments in knowledge- based economies.
I would like to start by thanking todays speakers.
Ambassador Sletnes and the Director General of the Research Council Arvid Hallèn set the tone with opening speeches emphasising the importance that Norwegian authorities give to today's event.
Director Cristina Russo from the Commission gave us an update on the latest developments in the area of European research and innovation.
Then we had good and thorough presentations from two of the foremost clusters in Norway, the Oslo Cancer Cluster and the cluster in Raufoss specialized in light materials technology.
In a Norwegian context, the Oslo Cancer Cluster represents one of few cases of world class medical research with a clear orientation towards industrial development as well as education.
While NCE Raufoss, was one of our first Norwegian Centres of Expertise. The cluster has become a showcase for what an industrial cluster should be: international, industry oriented and with strong technological competency.
I have very much enjoyed listening to each and every one of your contributions.
This year is the first time Norway Day has such a strong focus on innovation. I think this is timely.
In addition to the challenges that already have been mentioned:
- We are facing climate change, which makes it obvious that we need to develop a greener industry as well as green energy sources.
- The world population is growing in a fast paceand we need to find viable ways to produce enough and nutritious food.
- AND there is a large wave of refugees coming to Europe.
On top of this several countries have met serious economic challenges the last years, and we have seen rising unemployment rates.
As a result we need to restructure our economies, and find new ideas and solutions.
I firmly believe that our industry will play a crucial role in finding the solutions needed.
To make this possible we must invest more in research and innovation. We must also encourage more collaboration between different sectors, and between countries, to speed-up innovation and to create new jobs.
This is why Horizon2020 is so important.
I applaud the strong focus on innovation in Horizon2020, and strongly encourage an even larger focus on innovation in the coming framework programs.
The Norwegian Government has also given a strong priority to research and innovation. This year, as well as the two previous years, Norway has allocated a historically large sum to research. In 2016 this makes up a staggering 1.1 percent of our GDP.
The current Government has also made changes in Norwegian research and innovation policies, and promoted a shift to more competition by stimulating open competition arenas. This is also a development I would like to see on the European arenas.
At the same time we need to make sure that research leads to new and innovative products. Commercialization of research has to become much easier!
And this takes me to another important matter for my Government: Simplification.
I know you have made improvements in the present framework program in Horizon2020. And this is very positive!
But I still hear from companies who experience that it is too difficult to take part in the European research arena. We need to make this easier as well.
At last, we must not forget that it is all about people. We therefore need to create structures that build relations for cooperation and mutual trust.
This is precisely one of the benefits of the Norwegian Cluster program; through cooperation between academia and business, and public and private sector they manage to create long-term cooperation.
The Norwegian Innovation Cluster program is designed to promote collaborative innovation and strategic positioning.
The clusters create great value as well as future jobs and improve competitiveness for the companies.At the same time they can be part of the solution to the challenges we are facing. The two clusters presented here today are valid examples of that.
When talking about the grand challenges, and representing Norway I cannot stand here without mentioning our Oceans.
On a daily basis I am presented with arguments concerning the potential of our seas related to the worlds challenges such as enough and healthy food and new sources of renewable energy.
I therefore believe that we also need to invest in science and research in the blue sector to both secure a sustainable management and increase our knowledge of what the oceans can provide.
Because there is literally a sea of possibilities.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
President John F. Kennedy once said: "Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future".
That is why we must focus on research and innovation today. Because even if we do not know how we will handle the challenges tomorrow, we already know that knowledge will be the key.
I hope the information you have received today on the Norwegian system has been interesting and, in turn, will prove useful for future cooperation in several areas.
Thank you for your attention!