A Knowledge-Based Norway
David John Smith for Norway Communicates.
“What will we do after the Oil & Gas reserves are gone?” is a question that many Norwegians are asking these days. While no one has all the answers, there is fascinating work being done in this country looking at the paradigm shift from Industry Sector Clusters to “Global Knowledge Hubs”.
The ultimate societal-industrial race is well underway to develop the future’s Global Knowledge Hubs that are on the same level as the Life Science Hub in Boston, the Oil & Gas Hub in Houston, the Silicon Valley in California or the Singapore Maritime Hub.
To succeed, one must understand the actual paradigm shift processes that take a society from the basic use of raw materials first to manufacturing; then to business as Industrial Clusters – and finally to these ultimate self-sustaining knowledge-based societal entities – the Global Knowledge Hub.
From Raw Materials to Knowledge-Based Industries
For the past two decades here in Norway, Dr. Torger Reve, the Wilh. Wilhelmsen Professor of Strategy and Industrial Competitiveness of the BI Norwegian School of Management has guided much of the thought leadership related to the goal of ultimately making Norway among the world’s most attractive locations for knowledge-based industries. For a complete current overview, see Dr. Reve's Global Knowledge Hub project website.
For 10,000 years, the population of northwestern region of Europe that is now Norway has survived physically and later commercially on the plentiful raw materials found here – but just in the last few decades there has been an astounding transformation. With the Norwegian ÏOil & Gas AdventureÓ leading the way, this traditional commodity-based economy is now positioned on the cutting-edge within technology, products and services, with the Oil & Gas Adventure leading the way.
The Oil & Gas Adventure
According to Dr. Reve, although there are several industry clusters that immediately stand out here in Norway, including Maritime, the most notable is the Oil & Gas and Offshore Industry.
The four-decade long Oil & Gas Adventure that began in 1969 has not only resulted in this small country being among the world leaders in oil & gas exports, it has also had a synergy effect that has reverberated with technological areas that include sub-sea operations, deep-well drilling as well as a wide range of technological breakthroughs that have included raising the percentage levels of oil extraction while at the same time minimizing the impact on the local environment.
This is only the beginning. Technological expertise gained from Oil & Gas / Offshore activities have helped greatly momentum gained within renewable energy activities that include Offshore Wind Power, where Norway now stands among the leaders in this rapidly developing energy area. Education and Research have also benefited, with some of the best and the brightest minds being attracted to the wide range of programs at the country’s universities and research organizations.
From Industrial Clusters to Global Knowledge Hubs
Norway has long focused on the internationalization process, with major milestones including the 1991 research project “A Competitive Norway” (Et Konkurransedyktig Norge) led by Dr. Reve, Terje Lensberg and Kjell Gjønhaug. This research project, published in book format in 1992, charted the country’s international competitive abilities within different business and industry sectors and at the same time came forward with concrete suggestions as to how Norway could improve its competitive abilities.
Nearly a decade later, this landmark work was followed by recommendations to the Norwegian government by Dr. Reve regarding value development, then followed shortly afterwards by the 2000 book “A Value-Added Norway” (Et Verdiskapende Norge) by Dr. Reve and Erik W. Jakobsen. The recommendations to the Norwegian government were crystal clear, and included:
- Norway was in dire need of a vision related to a “Value-Added Economy”
- Norway must become a leading specialized knowledge-based nation
- Norway must concentrate its business and industry efforts on its strongest and most growth-positive industry sectors
- Norway must transit to less governmental ownership and a focus on private initiatives and ownership
- Norway must open its borders to top level employees and clean capital resources
- Norway must create an effective competitive environment and develop incentives within all industry and business sectors.
During the ensuing decade in Norway, much progress was experienced within the area of development of business clusters around the country through Innovation Norway’s NCE (Norwegian Centres of Expertise) Programme including knowledge-intense areas that include the NCE’s Nanotechnology, Subsea, Oslo Cancer Cluster, and NODE – the oil and gas technology cluster in southern Norway. For more information regarding this important ongoing project, see Innovation Norway and its descriptions of the different projects.
A Knowledge Based Norway
With national strategies within areas that include now include maritime, tourism, marine technology, energy, and the environment, the mechanisms are in place that promote knowledge development, creative thinking, innovation and adaptability and lay the groundwork for the shift to “A Knowledge Based Norway”.
This Knowledge Based Norway project led by Dr. Reve, Amir Sasson and Erik W. Jakobsen centers around a research project that is studying 13 cluster industries and will set the agenda related to new knowledge-based cluster policies. These cluster industries include:
- Oil & Gas and Offshore Industry
- Maritime Industry
- Fishing & Aquaculture
- Metals & Materials
- Banking & Finance
- Telecom & Media
- IT & Software
- Renewable Energy
- Healthcare, Medtech & Biotech
- Knowledge-based Services
- Construction & Real Estate.
No Time to Waste
Industry Clusters such as Maritime are already extremely well-developed here in the country, and other industries such as Aquaculture have been literally created through technology, attention to the environment, and good business strategies. All in all, Norway is well-positioned in the global competition with the goal of attracting the best educated minds, the most innovative businesses as well as the utmost in advanced research in order to develop Global Knowledge Hubs on the same on the same level as in Boston, Houston, the Silicon Valley and the Singapore Maritime Hub.
What is becoming now crystal clear that the future of this country will lie in “Knowledge Based Industries” and there is no time be wasted here in the study of these different industries in order to identify the areas where the synergies of knowledge, competition and cooperation can lead to Global Knowledge Hubs here .
Still, only time and strategic hard work will tell as the ultimate societal-industrial race to develop Global Knowledge Hubs continue.