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Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, thank you for inviting me. It is a great pleasure to open the Norway Summit this (beautiful) morning.
For those of you who don't know me, my name is Dilek Ayhan from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries.
Two fun facts about me:
Firstly, my name may not strike you as typical Norwegian. That's because I am of Turkish descent.
Secondly, on the contrary to many of my colleagues, I do not have a political background:
In fact I am a computer engineer and an entrepreneur.
As you know, the world is changing in a rapid pace. Today we are facing some evident global trends:
- A strong global climate agreement
- Increasing globalisation
- An evolving collaborative economy
- And an aging population
The industrial world is changing as well.
We see increased automatization and digitalization in modern industries.
We see more advanced, more efficient and more accurate production methods developing.
We see robots doing more of the work that hands used to do!
Some call this a new wave of re-industrialization. Others, a fourth industrial revolution.
Whatever you call it, the important point is to acknowledge that there is a technological disruption going on, which changes how we approach industrial production.
These changes offer both opportunities and challenges for industrial production.
We must do your best to tackle the challenges, this is partly the governments responsibility. At the same time we must embrace the opportunities in order to strengthen competitive industrial production in Europe.
In Norway the salaries are high and production becomes expensive. High production costs makes it hard to compete globally. When the industry becomes highly technologized, salaries can make up a smaller share of production costs. This increases the possibilities for a country like Norway to become an industrial nation again.
We are already seeing that companies with advanced robotized technology are now considering moving production from China back to Norway!
This is very positive!
The Norwegian economy faces growing challenges and major adjustments in the coming years.
We have been reliant on the oil industry as the main engine in our economy for years.
Oil and gas is still a future industry for Norway.
But the price of oil since late 2014 make it clear to us that the Norwegian economy is too vulnerable.
In fact most industries in Norway are affected by the lower demand from the oil sector in some way.
People have lost their jobs and whole communities are experiencing difficult times.
This is a strong reminder that we need to build a more diverse economy in Norway.
Successfully grasping the new trends of industrial development will clearly be part of the solution for the future Norwegian economy.
This is why we have started the work on a White Paper on Norwegian Industry.
In this White Paper we will seek to identify how Norwegian industry is equipped to handle new trends of industrial development. And which challenges we can expect within technology, markets and green innovation.
Fortunately, it is part of our industrial tradition to restructure along with new opportunities.
Mind you, when we first discovered oil on the Norwegian continental shelf in the late nineteen sixties, Norwegian companies had very limited experience with offshore petroleum.
However, we had the advantage of a strong maritime sector and industrial knowledge on hydropower. This enabled us to evolve from building tankers and water dams, to building decks and offshore platforms over a very short time!
This time we must put our knowledge and technology developed for the petroleum industry, into use to strengthen other industries.
And we have invested a lot in knowledge! We have increased funding to research, and in 2016 the Government is allocating 2,4 billion Norwegian kroner more to industrial research than in 2013. This provides the basis for new products and services that gives growth in the economy.
And we have many strenghts:
- We still have access to clean and renewable energy from our waterfalls.
- We have a tradition for efficiency and innovation.
- We have a skilled work force who embrace new technology.
- And we have a culture of cooperation between industry, science and civil society.
All in all this makes me optimistic.
Clearly, we do not know which industries will thrive, and which will not. But we do know that innovation is key.
Many of the businesses that will lead the way in the restructuring of the Norwegian economy are not yet established.
Innovation is an important priority for my Government. And, we want Norway to be among the most innovative countries in Europe.
There is a blooming entrepreneurship scene in Norway. However, we see a negative development in this area. Falling numbers of Norwegians are becoming entrepreneurs. And more dramatic: a falling number of entrepreneurs start companies with growth ambitions.
Therefore the Government presented a new plan for entrepreneurship last year. The plan presents the Government's policies to improve conditions for starting and developing new businesses in Norway, with an emphasis on capital, competence and culture.
We have also increased entrepreneurship grants and established two new seed capital funds that will invest in young companies.
Entrepreneurs will play a crucial role in adjusting to new trends of industrial development.
They will contribute to diversify our economy.
And, they will create the jobs of the future.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Norway is an open economy that continuously has to adapt to the global trends.
In a global international competition we need to make use of every advantage available.
We need more entrepreneurs who see possibilities like these.
We need new ideas.
We need new companies.
We need existing companies to renew themselves.
And, we need to succeed in innovating and restructuring the Norwegian industry.
This is not easy, but we have done it before, and we can do it again.
This time around we have productive arenas for industrial players, like the Norway Summit. I hope the outcome of this conference will be useful to many of you. And that new ideas and possible business opportunities will emerge.