Minister of Finance on digital visit to Smart Innovation Norway:

“I see the technology environments as an important part of the solution”

On Monday, Norwegian Minister of Finance Jan Tore Sanner visited Smart Innovation Norway for the second time. In 2017, he came to tech town Halden as Minister for Local Government and Modernisation. This time, Mr. Sanner visited digitally.

Av Mari Kristine Buckholm, 12 January 2021

“I wanted to come back to Smart Innovation Norway because I see the technology clusters and environments as an important part of the solution. We have some basic challenges ahead which entail less people working compared to the number of retirees, we need to create more workplaces in the private sector and we are going to implement the green shift. We know the technology environments can contribute with good solutions to handle some of these challenges,” says Minister of Finance Jan Tore Sanner after the digital visit is over.

The meeting was led by Øystein Eriksen Søreide, CEO of Abelia. Smart Innovation Norway, which facilitates the two clusters NCE Smart Energy Markets and Cluster for Applied AI, hosted the meeting via Zoom. In addition, cluster members Østfold Energi and eSmart Systems participated.

Perspectives on Norwegian economy

The Minister of Finance opened the digital visit by presenting the government’s work with the coming report on the future Norwegian economy, called Perspektivmeldingen 2021. His introduction was followed by presentations and feedback from the participating companies.

“The report focuses on the need for creating new workplaces, competence, technological trends and climate change. Smart Innovation Norway works with these topics and we explained what we do and what will be important going forward,” says Kjell Reidar Mydske, CEO at Smart Innovation Norway.

“Such a report looks as far ahead as 2060, but in these challenging times it also presents scenarios for 2025 and 2030. We got a small taste of it today. It also emphasizes the important work ahead as a nation and the need for sustainable value creation”, notes Eli Haugerud, Head of Clusters at Smart Innovation Norway.

Applauds diverse work environment

During the short company presentations, the minister got insight into the reason for Smart Innovation Norway’s remarkable growth within all business areas for the past years, he heard about how Østfold Energi adapts to the digital age and he got a quick introduction to how eSmart Systems utilises artificial intelligence to inspect the power grid.

“Smart Innovation Norway attracts so many people with different backgrounds, and I believe that is an important success factor; a diverse work environment. With 44 employees from 14 different nations, it is obvious that this is a company that purposely attracts diverse experience and competence, but also that it is an interesting environment to work in, comments minister Sanner (photo).

He adds:

“eSmart Systems’ solutions contribute to increasing productivity and represent the key to carrying the welfare in the future.”

Need for relevant education system

Mydske appreciates that Norway’s Minister of Finance looks to Smart Innovation Norway and the company’s technology network in the government’s work with perspectives on Norwegian economy.

“We work with the green shift and business development. It is nice with positive attention regarding this important work. At the same time, we wish to deliver a message to the minister that it is both necessary and possible to combine business development and a green shift. If Norway is to succeed with this shift, environments and networks like Smart Innovation Norway’s will be good and efficient tools. This is what we do every day,” emphasises Mydske.

The Minister of Finance says he will bring everything he has heard during the visit with him in his work going forward, because technology is everywhere in life – both at home and at work.

“This means we need an education system that can provide children with the competence they need in a work life that demands increasingly high competence, but also change competence. We will never finish learning, and we need to learn throughout our entire lives.”

“The solutions that have been presented in the company cases today also show that there is a need for an education system that contributes to solutions for people who already have work. For example, if you are a carpenter or plumber, you will need new competence when the technological solutions enter the market. People with higher education will need competence refill as well. Norway must be attractive, we must have attractive agreements and environments, but also an education system that matches the needs of the private sector, concludes minister Sanner.