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Annual report '06


Travel and tourism

Tourism is an important initiative area for Innovation Norway. Norway is aiming to take a larger share of the international growth in tourism by being a preferred destination for the quality-conscious traveller.

The board has adopted a new tourism strategy, which will lead to increased value creation within the Norwegian tourism industries, partly by stepping up the initiative aimed at the brand-building of Norway as a destination. By initiating innovation projects, we will also help to develop appropriate new tourism concepts and strengthen the ones that we already have.

The board believes that Innovation Norway must work with the tourism industry to secure a profitable tourism industry and sustainable development for Norway as a destination. It is vital to ensure that the tourism industry in Norway has the products that customers want, and that the promotion of Norway as a destination is consistent and concentrated.

In early 2006, the collaboration between the tourism industry and Innovation Norway was not working satisfactorily. The board believes that the industry became more satisfied with Innovation Norway during the autumn, and notes that the feedback that has been received concerning the initiatives that have been implemented is positive.

Seed capital

Seed capital is normally the first external equity investment for innovation companies during the phase that is subject to greatest risk. Here, risk capital combined with active ownership and expertise transfer will be vital for the further development of companies. The market is characterised by the poorly developed provision of both seed and venture capital. There seems to be a lack of seed capital in particular.

The board therefore believes that the work undertaken during 2006 to strengthen the seed capital market is a positive development. New, privately owned seed capital funds have been established where the State contributes through risk relief and subordinated loans. During 2006, Innovation Norway entered into loan agreements and contributed to the establishment of four nationwide and one regionally oriented seed capital funds.

Norwegian Centres of Expertise (the NCE programme)

The NCE programme will reinforce innovation and internationalisation processes in the fastest growing business clusters in Norway. The programme represents a collaboration between Innovation Norway, the Research Council of Norway and SIVA.
The following projects were given NCE status in 2006:

  • NCE Instrumentation in Trøndelag 
  • NCE Maritime in Møre og Romsdal 
  • NCE Microsystems in Vestfold 
  • NCE Raufoss in Oppland 
  • NCE Systems Engineering in Kongsberg 
  • NCE Subsea in Hordaland

The board is extremely satisfied with the excellent response to the first announcement in 2006, and the fact that all the projects are now well under way. The projects have attracted considerable positive attention.
Innovation Norway will continue to assist the projects, and the board is looking forward to the results of this work in both the short and the long term. The board also wishes to highlight the fact that the Arena projects represent an important recruitment channel for NCE.

Cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The board believes that there are benefits to be had from coordinating the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Innovation Norway relating to innovation, internationalisation and promotion abroad. When Innovation Norway was founded, it was a condition that the offices abroad would be integrated into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Innovation Norway and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are however in agreement that this is not feasible, and in the autumn of 2006 they began work to identify a new cooperation model. The new model means, among other things, that our envoys will be employed by Innovation Norway and also registered as part of the embassies within the host country’s authorities, with the exception of eight countries in Western Europe.  The close cooperation and the current scheme of co-localisation will be continued.

Cooperation agreements

The board is striving to simplify customers’ access to, and benefit from, the products and services offered by the public sector aimed at business development.  In connection with this, the board is very satisfied with the work that has been done in relation to cooperation agreements with relevant partners.

The cooperation agreements with SIVA and the Research Council of Norway form the basis for a more comprehensive cooperation and a common customer contact through Innovation Norway’s offices.

The Research Council of Norway is represented by eight of the offices in Norway and co-finances positions at four of our offices abroad. Of the activities in 2006, the board particularly wishes to highlight the work relating to a joint customer portal, www.innovasjonstjenester.no. This portal was launched on 24 October 2006 and simplifies access to the services of the three organisations on the internet by having a common electronic ‘entrance door’.

The board also believes in the importance of ensuring that the cooperation with all the county councils in the country and the county governors’ agricultural departments represents a strong partnership.  This ensures, and leads to, a more coordinated service for customers.

Innovation Norway also has cooperation agreements with a number of other organisations such as the Norwegian Design Council, Enova and INTSOK- the Norwegian Oil and Gas Partners. The board notes that a close cooperation between all the support players is important and that this work should therefore be developed further.