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Norway has one of the world’s highest incomes per capita, owing not only to its rich endowment and prudent management of natural resources but also to a high level of productivity. The new government that took office in October 2013 is preparing major new initiatives.
Hot Issues are major national STI policy priorities, as self-reported by countries in their responses to the OECD STIO 2014 policy questionnaire.
Improving the framework conditions for innovation (including competitiveness)
To enhance industry competitiveness and diversify the Norwegian economy, the government aims to provide more favourable framework conditions for innovation. For example, it has taken steps to reduce the tax burden on businesses and personal incomes. In addition, the 2014 budget allocates more funds to existing instruments that support business R&D and innovation, such as the Open Innovation Arena (BIA), with an increase of USD 10 million (NOK 90 million) to USD 53 million (NOK 474 million), and the cluster programmes. In addition, an increase in project size and number of projects under the long-standing R&D tax credit scheme Skattefunn is expected following increases in allowable cost ceilings. This is expected to amount to an increase in tax expenditures of USD 28 million (NOK 250 million) to USD 204 million (NOK 1.8 billion). A productivity commission was appointed in 2014.
Improving overall human resources, skills and capacity building
Norway has a well-educated workforce, a relatively high share of the adult population with tertiary education, quite a high percentage of doctoral graduates in science and engineering, and the ratio of higher education expenditure to GDP is above the OECD median (Panel 1t, w, s). Norway aims to build a knowledge society by means of an ambitious education policy, increasing investment in R&D and building world-class research capabilities. The 2014 budget contains an allocation of USD 17 million (NOK 150 million) to improve higher education quality, and a new grant scheme of USD 3.7 million (NOK 33 million) for further education of teachers. In addition, total funding for vocational training has increased by USD 13 million (NOK 114 million) in 2014. A review of the institutional landscape of higher education is on-going. Its aim is to increase the quality of higher education and research.
Addressing challenges of STI globalisation and increasing international cooperation
Internationalisation remains an overall priority of the government’s research and innovation policy. Norway is better integrated in the international network in scientific research than in innovation (Panel 1q, r). In May 2014, Norway joined the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme with full membership as an associated country. A strategy that identifies clear objectives and priorities for research co-operation in the context of Horizon 2020 and the European Research Area was adopted in 2014. Since 2012, a dedicated STIM-EU Programme, with USD 6 million (NOK 55 million) in 2014, which supports the participation of Norwegian PRIs in the EU’s 7th Framework Programme, has been part of a portfolio of measures to increase European research co-operation.
Improving the governance of innovation system and policy
A White Paper, Long-Term Perspectives – Knowledge Provides Opportunity (2012-13), proposed a new approach to the formulation of national research policy to ensure clear priorities for long-term co-ordinated public investments in research and higher education. In response, the government is developing a ten-year plan for research and higher education, to be adopted in 2014 and updated every four years, that will set out strategic priorities and guidelines for public investment in STI and in research infrastructure, and for the expansion of education capacity over the long term.
Norway has a pronounced RTA in environment- related technologies that has decreased somewhat over the past decade (Panel 3). The Innovation Norway grant scheme for environmental technology (Miljøteknologiordningen) supports pilot and demonstration projects. Enova has started to make a strong effort on climate and energy technology.
With public R&D expenditure above the OECD median, Norway’s public research performs reasonably well in terms of numbers of world class universities and academic publications, but less so in pat-enting (Panel 1a, b, c, p). To increase the efficiency of public research, competitive funding has increased faster than institutional block funding during the last decade. Since 2013, the system for performance-based funding of PRIs has been simplified, with a streamlined set of indicators for measuring performance. As mentioned, the long-term national plan for research and higher education will set priorities and objectives to guide public investments in research and higher education for the next ten years.
Norway’s BERD is below the OECD median (Panel 1d), partly owing to structural features of the Norwegian economy. The Research Council of Norway (RCN) together with some specialised agencies provides government support for business R&D and innovation. Over 2011-13, public support for business R&D funded by industry-related ministries grew at the same rate as the overall government R&D budget. There are also some new programmes to support business innovation in specific technology areas (as mentioned above).
Norway’s business environment for innovation, as indicated by the Ease of Entrepreneurship Index (Panel 1j) is around the OECD median, as is the performance of young patenting firms (Panel 1i). Established in 2012, the third generation of the Seed Fund Investment Programme for early-stage risk-capital investment is being phased in, to increase the supply of venture capital which is currently below the OECD median (Panel 1h). An SME strategy was presented in 2012, as part of a broader initiative to reduce costs for businesses by simplifying legislation and governmental services. The Action Plan for Entrepreneurship in Education (2009-14) aims to strengthen students’ skills, perspectives, creativity and innovative thinking.
The government intends to make the results of wholly or partially government- funded research publicly available for the benefit of both the research community and society. Since 2013, it has been taking measures to encourage and promote open access to results of publicly funded research, including promoting open-access publications with funding support. Open access costs, such as article processing charges, are to be covered by the RCN grants. An evaluation of the long-running technology transfer offices (TTO) programme started in 2014.