Sustainability is competitiveness
Sustainability is high on the agenda at Innovation Norway, and with a new sustainability strategy from March 2021, the organisation received a roadmap with clear expectations regarding the work leading up to 2025. In recent years, sustainability has become a more important topic among the companies Innovation Norway works with.
A Green Necessity
“Sustainability and competitiveness can no longer be considered in isolation from each other. Companies that have sustainable business models will be the ones that survive in the long term”, says Inger Solberg, Director of Sustainability at Innovation Norway.
This is not only because sustainable operations are good for the planet, but also because sustainable operations will soon become a necessity for trading with the EU, which is Norway’s largest trading partner. The EU is now introducing a classification system to assess whether a company’s activity is sustainable or not (EU Taxonomy for Sustainable Activities). By 2030, emissions from the Union must be at least 55 percent lower than they were in 1990. The EU’s Green Deal growth strategy is already affecting the Norwegian business sector. When all companies that have over 500 employees have to report their activities in accordance with the EU Taxonomy for Sustainable Activities, this will also affect subcontractors.
“It is very important that Norwegian suppliers to the EU prepare for this. A basic review of your business model is a natural place to start. Moving over to a sustainable business model is a major transition for most businesses. We can assist Norwegian companies in this restructuring”, says Solberg.
For most companies, green restructuring starts with the business model itself. In the traditional sense, a business model has been a plan that is based on the customer’s needs. This plan then explains how the company can best meet this need so that it can maximise its own profits.
A sustainable business model turns this logic upside down. With such a model, one takes into account not only the economic aspects of operations, but also the company’s impact on society and the environment.
“Awareness of the relationships between sustainability and competitiveness has increased significantly in recent years. In 2021, we saw a clear increase in inquiries from companies that require help in developing sustainable business models”, says Arnfinn Lundberg Bakke, who heads Innovation Norway’s work on responsible business conduct.
A Competitive Advantage
In connection with Arctic Innovation Week 2021, Innovation Norway held ten workshops on circular economy, with a total of 60 companies participating. The tourism initiative called Global Growth Scandinavian Tourism also had sustainable business models as the main topic for their entire course programme.
The Toten-based company called IDT Solutions makes market-leading roller skis that are used by many of the world’s elite skiers. Photo: IDT Solutions
Another offer was the restructuring programme called FRAM Sustainability Innlandet Norway 2021, a programme that was fully booked in just over a week. Lena-based IDT Solutions AS was one of the 15 participating companies. Since 1995, the company has produced aluminium profiles and automation lines for customers in Norway, the Nordic countries and Europe.
“We have taken important measures and made our sustainability work visible. We have made this a competitive advantage and already see its effects”, says Dag Arnesen, Business Developer at IDT Solutions.
Oppland Stål in Lalm also sees sustainability work as a competitive advantage. Through participation in the FRAM programme, the company has prepared its own Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), a carbon account for FlexSafe bridge railings that the company produces.
“Joy, surprise and confidence flourished when we discovered that our EPD is the best in relation to similar products produced in Norway. This gives us a competitive advantage that we will market and reap in the future”, says Managing Director Sverre Braaten.
Environment, Sustainability and Green Growth
A number of Innovation Norway’s instruments are related to the environment, sustainability and green growth. In 2022, Innovation Norway will further intensify the work on sustainable business models.
“We also run a comprehensive internal training programme that helps our colleagues to become good advisors and sparring partners for the business sector. Our goal going forward is to offer companies more courses and workshops, so that even more people can have a smooth transition to an export reality that is characterised by increasingly tough sustainability requirements”, says Solberg.