Board of director’s report

The nature of the business

Innovation Norway was founded on 19 December 2003, has its head office in Oslo, regional offices throughout the country and a presence in 23 international markets. The company is owned by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries (51 per cent) and the county councils (49 per cent). Innovation Norway is organised as an enterprise established by special legislation, whose Board of Directors has an independent responsibility for its activities and the results achieved. Innovation Norway is responsible for the administration and appropriate organisation of Innovation Norway’s activities. The owners exercise supreme authority in the company through the general meeting. Innovation Norway complies with the corporate governance guidelines for companies that come under the area of responsibility of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries. In accordance with requirements stipulated by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, the company complies with the recommendations from the Norwegian Corporate Governance Board (NUES) relating to corporate governance insofar as these are relevant to the company.

Innovation Norway's objective

Innovation Norway's objective is to be the policy instrument of the state and the county authorities for achieving value-creating business development throughout the country. Innovation Norway's main purpose is to trigger business development that is profitable from both a commercial and a socio-economic perspective, and to help different regions realise their potential for business development. This goal is to be achieved through the sub-goals of more successful entrepreneurs, more companies with growth potential and more innovative business clusters.

Innovation Norway was established in 2004 through a merger of the Norwegian Industrial and Regional Development Fund (SND), the Norwegian Export Council, the Norwegian Tourist Council and the Government Consultative Office for Investors. This was due to a desire to simplify the governmental business support system for innovation and business development and to provide the companies with a gateway to access the services. Today's Innovation Norway embraces the roles held by former governmental business support agencies and achieves significant professional and cost synergies. The Board considers there to be potential for further consolidation of the governmental business support system.

The offices of Innovation Norway in all of the counties and in 23 countries provide the business sector with access to the governmental business support system. The organisation links together the local, regional, national and international at one and the same location. Our employees know the companies and their challenges and framework conditions in Norway, and their opportunities in the markets that are most important for the Norwegian business sector.

Innovation Norway is a “sparring partner” for the small and medium-sized enterprises that offers expertise, networks and capital. The businesses may devote their time to developing new products and services and do not need to be aware of the different support services. Innovation Norway’s advisers will see the opportunities and challenges and identify schemes that could be of assistance to them. If Innovation Norway cannot assist, the advisers will put the enterprises into contact with other private and public stakeholders that can provide assistance. In this way, Innovation Norway builds bridges between expert communities, governmental business support agencies and investors.

In 2021, Innovation Norway received appropriations and assignments in letters of assignment from the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Ministry of Climate and Environment, Ministry of Education and Research, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Transport and Communications, the county councils, county governors and other public stakeholders. Based on the national budget, the letters of assignment provide a combined overview of the principals’ expectations and requirements of Innovation Norway’s activities. The letters also set out Innovation Norway’s allocation framework and guidelines relating to initiatives, programmes and services. Innovation Norway offers funding services, advisory services, expert services, networking services and promotional services.

In order to assess Innovation Norway's contribution to the main goals and sub-goals, a performance management and result management system (MRS)1 has been established. Together with evaluations and other supportive analyses, this provides the company, principals, owners and other stakeholders with relevant management information about the company's activities and performance.

Innovation Norway’s goal structure is the same for all of the company’s principals and forms the basis for all assignments that the company is given. The goal structure takes precedence to other instructions and management signals. This also applies to instructions in assignments relating to initiatives targeting specific sectors or groups.

Our main goal and sub-goals form the basis for Innovation Norway’s dialogue with owners and principals. Innovation Norway's activities and priorities shall be in accordance with this goal structure.

A business sector undergoing a restructuring process

The global coronavirus pandemic impacted the Norwegian business sector again in 2021. The infection control measures had direct consequences for the operations of several industries, while others were largely able to return to normal operations. Economic activity has closely followed the infection control measures.

Throughout the year, Innovation Norway maintained its role as an emergency response organisation for the authorities, both through the role of “sounding board” in monitoring the status of the business sector and the role of administering crisis packages. Innovation Norway's role is to trigger investments in restructuring, innovation and internationalisation. This has also been the company’s role during the pandemic.

A Decade of Scaling

Even before the crisis, it was of crucial importance for Norway to develop a more diversified and sustainable business sector. Sustainable value creation is a prerequisite for the welfare of our future generations. In its 2017 analysis of the Norwegian innovation system, the OECD noted that Norway was facing a triple restructuring challenge: To shift from a vulnerable petroleum-based economy to a more diversified and robust economy, to develop a more competitive, effective and efficient research and innovation system, and ensure that this system is better equipped to address major societal challenges.

The long-term need for the Norwegian business sector to restructure has become more apparent during these years of crisis. Urgent measures are required to achieve the climate targets, and green solutions need to reach the markets within five to ten years if they are to have an impact on the Paris goals and be rapidly scaled. This provides opportunities for Norwegian companies. Demand for green solutions is increasing internationally in areas in which Norway has particularly good prerequisites, such as in energy and food. In 2021, Innovation Norway therefore worked specifically to focus our efforts on increased growth and exports. A vital task has been to further develop schemes that contribute to a comprehensive boost for new value chains. The experience from our collaboration with the Research Council of Norway and Enova in Pilot-E have been important in the work on the Green Platform, which was established in 2020 as part of the government's third package of measures.

Regional business development

In addition to being owners and clients, the county councils are important collaborative partners for Innovation Norway. Contributing to commercially and socio-economically profitable business development based on the preconditions of the various regions is a core assignment for Innovation Norway. The company provides advice and assists with the commercial strategies of the county councils. When working with Innovation Norway, companies nationwide encounter an organisation that takes a holistic view of regional, national and international policy instruments. Clear effects of this can be seen in, among other things, the creation of new green industrial companies, for which the broad social development role of the county councils and Innovation Norway's instruments are essential. In 2021, we saw startups in areas such as batteries, hydrogen, offshore wind, circular and bio economies.

The EU as a premise provider

The EU has become a much stronger premise provider for the Norwegian business sector through its “European Green Deal” strategy. The strategy has the goal of a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. In order to achieve these lofty ambitions, the EU action packages are extremely comprehensive in terms of both the financing and regulatory aspects and have major consequences for Norwegian businesses. The European Green Deal opens up huge market opportunities for European countries. A stronger strategic connection to the EU and Brussels is crucial, and Innovation Norway has strengthened its strategic work towards Europe in 2021. Innovation Norway shall mobilise Norwegian companies to make use of five different EU programmes (Horizon Europe, DIGITAL, Cosme, European Defence Fund (EDF) and InvestEU). Acceptance in EU programmes will be of major importance to individual companies throughout the country and for Norway’s pace of innovation and ability to transform the economy over the next five years.

Focused efforts for growth and exports

If we are to achieve the goals in the Paris Agreement, then the world must focus its efforts on adopting and scaling technology and solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions during the next 5-10 years. Many of these solutions are in place, however markets have not been mature enough for demonstration and scaling to be profitable. This is changing, and Norwegian companies now need to position themselves as providers of green solutions to the world markets. This requires more focused and differentiated export initiatives. In 2021, Innovation Norway commenced the export strategy "Equipped for Export" which entails a more focused service based on the capabilities and qualifications of the companies. A digital platform and centre of expertise provide all Norwegian companies with easy and fast access to relevant information and expertise pertaining to scaling, growth and exports. Innovation Norway has also established a service which ensures that the companies with the greatest potential receive tailored services over time. The export development programme offers the companies with the best prerequisites based on quantitative and qualitative criteria tailored services over 2-3 years for them to be able to realise their goals and ambitions. If Norway is to succeed in increasing and diversifying exports, we require more targeted and coordinated efforts to place the Norwegian business sector in a position to exploit major market opportunities for which we have a comparative advantage. High Potential Opportunities (HPO) is a new initiative that assists Norwegian companies with identifying and winning large contracts and international market shares. HPO is a demand-driven initiative in which we link significant, tangible market opportunities to Norwegian comparative advantages.

Expertise and capital

Innovation Norway is a “sparring partner” for business and industry throughout the country. Several commercially and socio-economically profitable projects are triggered by sparring with and challenging customers and offering the right expertise and financing. Companies are aware of the opportunities associated with the green transition, and significant investments are being made in new technology, new business models and industrial establishments. At the same time, Innovation Norway sees that there is a lack of venture capital for realising many of the initiatives. Many new digital business models do not have tangible assets to offer collateral security and therefore struggle to raise private venture capital for scaling and growth. During the previous year, Innovation Norway established new instruments to suit the current business models. The role of public banks in reducing risk is crucial to ensuring that the markets for green solutions mature and that the solutions can evolve from the demonstration and piloting stage to market introduction and scaling.

Innovation Norway is a key player in realising the green transition

A transition towards a greener economy requires the success of entire value chains. If new industries are to be developed, the entire “toolkit” needs to be used. This requires a different way of working in the public business support system than what was previously the case. Initiatives aimed at consortiums of companies that complement the value chain, and the business support system must ensure a holistic process by directing efforts within R&D, capital and international investment towards industries that can create highly productive jobs. The Green Platform scheme, which was introduced in 2020, contributed to several unified efforts for green value chains in 2021. The cooperation with the Research Council of Norway and Siva is also based on experiences from initiatives such as the Pilot-E scheme, which involves Innovation Norway cooperating with Enova and the Research Council of Norway. The previous year was a record year for Innovation Norway's investments in green projects. 61 per cent of total funding commitments in 2021 went towards projects with a positive effect on the climate, while the other projects were neutral. Hand-in-hand with a greener portfolio, our organisation strengthens the expertise and tools for addressing climate risk. The EU's classification system is now used as a basis when all financing cases are assessed.

The Board is very pleased with the deliveries and efforts that have been made to strengthen the ability to innovate and the rate of transition in Norway. By sparring with the business sector, both digitally and in all the country's regions, Innovation Norway represents a gateway for the business sector. The large proportion of green projects consolidates Innovation Norway's role as a key stakeholder and public bank which is crucial for Norway succeeding with the green shift. The Board also underlines the importance of Norwegian participation in the EU's research and innovation programmes and the value of the company's successful cooperation with other governmental business support agencies. The Board emphasises the importance of our superiors, the ministries, formulating schemes that are targeted, build upon the division of labour in the public business support system and that do not impose unnecessary coordination costs on the companies and on the public business support agencies.

Deliveries and effects in 2021

The Board of Innovation Norway laid out a new strategy for the company in 2019. It is the Board's assessment that this has withstood the crisis. It is with satisfaction that the Board can report a high degree of goal attainment, increasingly more efficient use of resources and good risk management in 2021. Innovation Norway’s objective is to contribute towards establishing more good entrepreneurs, more companies with growth potential and innovative business clusters throughout the entire country. For all three sub-goals, the Board can conclude that the level of activity, effects and goal attainment have been high in spite of the pandemic.

In 2021, Innovation Norway again played an important role in counteracting the long-term consequences of the coronavirus crisis for the Norwegian business sector and in ensuring that entrepreneurs, growth companies and innovation communities have the ability to restructure and innovate. The organisation’s primary focus has been to ensure that as many as possible invest in restructuring and innovation, are able to export their goods and services and derive benefit from the EU’s instruments.

The Norwegian Parliament and the county councils allocated a total of NOK 7.0 billion to Innovation Norway. Together with the loan schemes, Innovation Norway contributed NOK 10.1 billion to the business sector in 2021. This included loans, grants, guarantees, advisory services, profile raising, and networking through Innovation Norway's various services. Funds allocated by Innovation Norway went towards investments in business and industry totalling NOK 31.5 billion.

95 per cent of enterprises stated that Innovation Norway's support was, to a high or moderate extent, a key factor in starting their projects. One krone from Innovation Norway in the form of capital or advice is matched by 2.1 kroner in self-financing or other sources of funding for development projects and investments. In addition, having Innovation Norway as a “sparring partner” also contributes to many other innovation and internationalisation activities by providing expertise and networking.

The figures for 2021 (development for 2003-2020) from Samfunnsøkonomisk Analyse AS (SØA) indicate that the impact of support from Innovation Norway remains at a high level. There are no altered effects to report that require special follow-up for any assignments, sub-goals/target group or instrument.

All limited liability companies that received support from Innovation Norway experienced higher annual growth in all three impact indicators over a three-year period, compared with the control group: an increase in annual growth in sales revenues of 10.4 percentage points (2020: 10.3 percentage points), an annual increase in value creation of 9.0 percentage points (2020: 8.7 percentage points), and an annual increase in productivity of 4.0 percentage points (2020: 4.0 percentage points).

More successful entrepreneurs

In 2021, Innovation Norway committed NOK 2.0 billion to the sub-goal of “More successful entrepreneurs”. In addition to this, Innovation Norway delivered advisory services, expert services, networking services and promotional services. A total of 140 companies participated in the Global Accelerator programmes, which were held ten times in 2021. The courses are held nationwide in cooperation with various regional offices. All courses were held digitally due to the pandemic.

In 2021, there were 166 commitments to commercialisation grants (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries only) totalling NOK 116.4 million. There were 88 commitments for start-up loans totalling NOK 125 million. A start-up loan gives entrepreneurial companies capital which enables them to continue to build their companies. There were also appropriations from the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development.

A total of NOK 2.05 billion was allocated to startups (0-3 years), which consisted of NOK 1.1 billion in grants, NOK 740 million in loans and NOK 190 million in guarantees. We see that startups still make up a significant proportion of other financing services. In 2021, 28.7 per cent of the allocations (in terms of amounts) from the Environmental Technology Scheme went towards startups, including 35.8 per cent of the extraordinary innovation grant, and the figure was 33 per cent for innovation contracts.

The entrepreneur service from Innovation Norway includes more than financing. Significant resources are assigned to dialogue with clients, information and consulting, workshops and networking activities, and linking entrepreneurs with relevant collaborative partners. Despite physical meetings being limited in 2021, Innovation Norway has utilised various digital channels to reach out to entrepreneurial companies.

This year's survey (SØA) shows that, on average, these customers had annual growth in sales revenues that was 16.4 percentage points more than comparable companies without support. The corresponding figure for value creation was 16.9 percentage points and was 11.7 percentage points for productivity.

More companies with growth potential

In 2021, Innovation Norway committed funding of NOK 6.2 billion within the sub-goal of “More companies with growth potential” (companies more than three years of age). In addition, there are funding commitments to agriculture and the value of Innovation Norway’s advisory services, expert services, networking services and promotional services.

In 2021, corporate clients with growth potential (companies more than three years of age on the assessment date) received approximately NOK 6 billion in financial services, which consisted of NOK 3.4 billion in grants, NOK 2.3 billion in loans and NOK 300 million in guarantees. The proportion of grants, loans and guarantees increased from 2019 to 2021. This was partly due to extraordinary measures resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Extraordinary innovation grants amounted to NOK 650 million and there was more than NOK 1 billion in crisis packages for tourism and the events industry. The Growth Guarantee Scheme has also established itself as an attractive alternative for companies in the growth phase. In this scheme, Innovation Norway provides guarantees to commercial banks that provide credit to borrowers. The proportion of guarantees to established companies has increased by NOK 275 million since 2019, and loans have increased by 440 million. This means that, in total, loans and guarantees to established companies have increased by 37.5 per cent compared to 2019.

This year's survey (SØA) shows that companies within this category that receive support from Innovation Norway have higher growth in both sales revenues (6.7 percentage points), value creation (5.3 percentage points) and productivity (2.1 percentage points), compared with similar companies that do not use Innovation Norway’s services.

The restructuring of the Norwegian economy is dependent on more companies growing and succeeding in international competition – whether this be in the domestic market (imports) or in international export markets. Innovation Norway contributes growth financing and links companies to expertise and networks both in Norway and export markets, to meet the needs of innovative companies with growth ambitions.

MRS figures for 2021 show that companies which received international marketing advice from Innovation Norway’s foreign offices experienced a 9.3 percentage point higher increase in revenues, 7.1 percentage point higher growth in value creation and 4.5 percentage point higher growth in productivity than comparable enterprises that did not use the service.

In 2021, Innovation Norway had a pivotal role as sparring partner for Norwegian startups that raised funds through the EIC Accelerator in Horizon Europe. These are companies that, with the help of enabling technology, have ambitions of achieving disruptive effects. 59 companies submitted applications, and of these 16 made it to the final. Five of the companies ended up with a total allocation of just under NOK 300 million.

More innovative business clusters

Innovation Norway contributes to regional partnerships through interaction with other public funding agencies and by acting as a “sparring partner” for companies across the country to achieve this sub-goal.

The cluster programme is a key instrument for being able to succeed in building more innovative business clusters. 44 clusters received services from the cluster programme in 2021. In addition to the clusters that are part of the programme, new networks that could develop to become a cluster or a corporate network and clusters that have previously been part of the programme have received assistance.

Two new Arena Clusters were accepted and four clusters were raised to the Arena Pro level when the programme was announced in 2021. The subprogramme for mature clusters was announced and four clusters received approval to conduct larger development projects. The opportunity to participate in the pilot project Hub-Node was announced and two pilots were accepted. A number of skills development initiatives were also provided through the programme's learning and development platform (LUP). The coronavirus meant that skills development and gatherings were largely conducted via digital meetings. The application and reporting process was digitalised in 2021, which provided better opportunities for both for the clusters and Innovation Norway to follow up the clusters’ projects. There is also, not least, a great deal of sparring with cluster facilitators, cluster managers and companies, both one-on-one and through strategy workshops etc. from both regional cluster advisers and programme management, as well as other relevant stakeholders from Innovation Norway, the Research Council of Norway and Siva.

These instruments effectively contribute to collaborative development at a large number of companies. These development projects have a positive impact on innovation and value creation. The objective of Innovation Norway's instruments is to enable these groups of stakeholders to achieve positive effects that they would not be able to achieve on their own.

For companies participating in networks and clusters, this year’s survey (SØA) shows significant growth in the first three years for sales revenues (15.0 percentage points), value creation (15.6 percentage points), productivity (2,7 percentage points) and number of fulltime equivalents (FTEs) (5.8 percentage points), compared with similar companies that do not use Innovation Norway's services. It also appears that participants in these networks are better at cooperating and using other types of instruments for research and innovation, including EU instruments.

Continual development in measuring impact

It is a demanding task to quantify the impact of Innovation Norway’s overall activities. The Board is very satisfied that Innovation Norway has emphasised investigating, acquiring and communicating new knowledge about which services and schemes are most effective in business and innovation policy. Innovation Norway is continually working to assess our goal attainment. An initial framework for better socio-economic analyses will be developed together with SØA in 2022 which shall be based on the effects that have been estimated. During the coronavirus crisis, SØA was also tasked by Innovation Norway with establishing a statistics bank. The statistics bank shows how the business sector has made use of ordinary and extraordinary support schemes during the coronavirus crisis. This is openly available at Data from all of the governmental business support agencies has been regularly collected and entered in the statistics bank to enable the authorities to follow how crisis packages and additions to existing instruments have been used.

Evaluations, reports, analyses and impact measurements together provide important management information and a knowledge base on which to further develop the company. The Board is focused on the company continuing with this work and communicating lessons learnt to owners, clients and other stakeholders.

Particular issues in 2021

Follow-up of the Government's review of the business support system. A review of the public business support system was initiated in 2018. The purpose of the review was to simplify the services offered to companies and to reduce the overall implementation costs in the public business support system. All parts of Innovation Norway's activities were impacted by the proposals put forward in the review. The uncertainty that was created around the organisation of core assignments such as exports and a number of other parts of the company’s activities still remained at the end of 2021. The Board has been and remains concerned that conclusions are drawn that are in line with the purpose of the review. The Board is satisfied that our role as a gateway to a unified public business support system has been clarified, however it is concerned about initiatives to establish new support agencies and schemes that increase the complexity for both customers and the support agencies.

As a consequence of the Government's review, Innovation Norway was instructed in the 2022 national budget to significantly reduce the company’s implementation costs. The work on preparing the company for this significant cost cut started in 2021. Through tight control of full-time equivalents, the number of permanent employees was decreased slightly and a comprehensive review of the cost base was initiated with the objective of identifying measures that could result in permanent reductions in implementation and operating expenses. The Board notes with apprehension that, as 2022 begins, Innovation Norway will encounter greater expectations in a number of areas — green restructuring, exports, regional development and Norwegian participation in EU programmes — while at the same time being assigned less capacity to deliver. The work with cost-effectiveness and digitalisation is therefore a high priority. However, the Board emphasises that efforts to mobilise companies across the country to innovate, restructure and develop requires our presence and competent sparring.

The tourism industry is among the industries that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. Innovation Norway has had several extraordinary stimulus packages aimed at this business sector and in 2020 was responsible for coordinating the work on a new national tourism strategy. The Board is of the view that, moving into 2022, there is cause for concern about the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic on this important part of Norwegian business.

Due to the crisis situation, Innovation Norway has, to a greater extent than in a normal year, exercised the role of innovation policy adviser by updating owners and ministries about the status for the Norwegian business sector through the “sounding board”. The Board is focused on Innovation Norway continuing to work on being data-driven and knowledge-based when exercising its role as innovation policy adviser.

The Board monitors the company's operations throughout the year and focuses on achieving goals, efficient operations and responsible administration of public funds. It can be difficult to see from the annual accounts how the company's costs have developed, because the costs include delivery costs and customer-oriented activities and projects. Cost-efficiency at Innovation Norway has been measured as the ratio between what we deliver (NOK) and the costs of delivering this. 2020 was an extraordinary year for Innovation Norway in every possible sense and the same also applies to 2021. The large crisis packages, combined with lower costs resulting from, among other things, reduced activities, mean that cost-efficiency is not comparable with previous years. The Board would emphasise that the company’s cost-efficiency must be viewed in connection with the effects achieved in the Norwegian business sector (effectivity). The goal in itself is not to have a low cost ratio, but a correct cost ratio given the target groups, priorities and services that are necessary for achieving the greatest effectivity.

Annual financial statements

The overall scope of Innovation Norway's financial activities is significant. Innovation Norway’s balance sheet total at year-end was NOK 30.1 billion, which is NOK 1.2 billion more than in 2020 (NOK 28.9 billion). Of this, net loans amounted to NOK 18.7 billion as at 31 December 2021 (NOK 19 billion as at 31 December 2020). In 2021, NOK 3.2 billion was paid out in new loans (NOK 4.0 billion in 2020) and NOK 4.5 billion in grants (NOK 4.9 billion in 2020). The cash flow shows that large gross payments are received and disbursed by Innovation Norway every year. This is particularly due to a large part of the borrowings for lending activities being refinanced approximately every three months.

The company’s profit for 2021 was NOK 229 million, compared with NOK 122 million in 2020. The profit before losses was NOK 222 million in 2021, compared with NOK 213 million in 2020. Operating expenses were higher in 2021 than in 2020, while the costs for customer-oriented activities remained at approximately the same level. Provisions for losses were significantly lower in 2021 than in 2020.

As part of the work on a more efficient and simplified public business support system, in the 2022 national budget Innovation Norway was set an efficiency target totalling 100 million by the end of 2024. NOK 25 million of the cut must be realised in 2022 and a further NOK 75 million phased in during 2023 and 2024. The cuts must be permanent and include Innovation Norway's combined activities. In connection with this, NOK 100 million in restructuring costs has been charged to the financial statements for 2021. NOK 82 million appears as increased income from public sources, of which NOK 75 million originates from extraordinary grant financing and NOK 7 million is covered by unused funds from previous years. This has resulted in a negative effect on earnings of NOK 18 million and a weaker result for the loan schemes for 2021. For more detailed information see Note 10.

Net interest income was NOK 450 million in 2021, compared with NOK 435 million the previous year. The increase in net interest income of NOK 15 million was due to higher interest rate margins and changes in the composition of the loan portfolio. Dividends and profits/losses on securities showed an income of NOK 8 million in 2021, compared with a loss of NOK 8 million in 2020. The income was due to the reversal of the previous year’s write-down of the value of shares in our subsidiary Investeringsfond for Nordvest-Russland og Øst -Europa AS.

Total operating income in 2021 was NOK 1,301 million, compared with NOK 1,195 million in 2020. The NOK 106 million increase was due to an increase in income from public sources of NOK 96 million, NOK 8 million in external revenues and miscellaneous operating income of NOK 2 million. The increase in income from public sources was primarily linked to NOK 82 million for coverage of restructuring costs (ref. the description above). Other increases of NOK 14 million in income from public sources were the result of income recognition in relation to the share of operating expenses that are not covered by external revenues and miscellaneous operating income. The increase in external revenues was the result of increased activity in comparison with 2020, despite the fact that in 2021 the company was still feeling the impact of reduced external revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic. The net increase in miscellaneous operating income of NOK 2 million in 2021 was primarily due to an increase in net commission income from EIF guarantees of NOK 4 million, an increase in net foreign exchange losses of NOK 1 million, and lower rental income of NOK 1 million compared to 2020.

Operating expenses amounted to NOK 1,537 million, compared with 1,409 million in 2020, a net increase of NOK 128 million. Payroll expenses amounted to NOK 937 million in 2021, compared with NOK 821 million in 2020. The increase of NOK 116 million was primarily due to provisions for restructuring of NOK 78 million. Pension costs increased by NOK 56 million compared with the previous year. In 2020, pension costs of NOK 17 million were recognised as income as a result of a final settlement in connection with the partial transition from a defined-benefit plan to a defined-contribution plan, which influenced the basis for comparison. Reference is made to Note 31 for a more detailed presentation of calculated pension costs and assumptions for 2021. Other payroll expenses show a reduction due to fewer FTEs compared to 2020. The average number of FTEs in 2021 was 739, compared with 767 in 2020. Depreciation was at the same level when compared with 2020. Direct project costs were on a par with the previous year, which was characterized by savings measures to adjust for lost external income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Other operating expenses were NOK 13 million higher than the previous year. The primary reason for the increase was NOK 22 million in restructuring costs. When excluding restructuring costs, other operating expenses would have been NOK 9 million lower than the previous year, which is largely a consequence of the closure of international offices in 2021. This has yielded a reduction in costs relating to premises of NOK 7 million.

The level of defaults in the loan portfolio was relatively low, however the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause some uncertainty and the risk of loss in the loan portfolio. Net losses on loans in 2021 amounted to recognised income of NOK 8 million compared with an expensed loss of NOK 91 million in 2020. The positive net loss in 2021 was primarily due to there not being any change in group write-downs on the low-risk loan scheme, and loss reversals in comparison with 2020. An annual loss on low-risk loans equivalent to 0.5 per cent of the portfolio is expected. In 2021, the loss percentage was 0 per cent of the portfolio. Losses on loans related to Innovation Norway's innovation and high-risk loan schemes are covered by loss reserves, and therefore not reflected in Innovation Norway's financial performance figures. Losses on high-risk loans and guarantee schemes amounted to NOK 122 million in 2021, compared with NOK 94 million in 2020. These lending activities are expected to involve a higher risk profile than the low-risk loan scheme and losses over time of close to 5 per cent of the portfolio per year. The losses in 2021 amounted to 2.1 per cent of the portfolio (1.7 per cent in 2020).

It is our assessment that our financing activities do not have significant and direct exposure to stakeholders and markets in Russia and Ukraine. However, a more protracted and unstable situation in those countries could result in significant implications for our customers and thereby our funding portfolio.

The Board considers the company to have adequate equity as of 31 December 2021.

Innovation Norway has a framework agreement with a consortium of research institutions that are used to research innovation policy issues that are of importance to the company. External evaluations and analyses are also carried out of the company's activities and use of measures in cooperation with external consultants and researchers. The company uses the knowledge these provide in the development of our services, organisation and work processes. The company otherwise incurred no costs and made no investments related to R&D in 2021.

Risk management and internal control

The company conducts assessments of factors that are important for achieving the goals of more successful entrepreneurs, more companies with growth potential and more innovative business clusters. Risk management and internal control are an integrated part of Innovation Norway's performance management and underpin the company's goal attainment.

Innovation Norway faces a number of risks from external factors relating to political, economic or technological factors and internal factors relating to employees, management, systems and processes. Innovation Norway divides its risk universe into strategic risk, financial risk and operational risk.

In 2021, the Board established the risk tolerance in three selected risk areas at Innovation Norway: credit risk, operational risk and legal risk (compliance risk and contractual risk). As part of the regular four-monthly reporting, the management conducts an assessment of whether Innovation Norway’s risk exposure is within the stipulated risk tolerance. In 2021, the Board found the company's risk to be within its approved framework for risk tolerance.

Strategic risk: Strategic risk relates to factors that are important for Innovation Norway's long-term goal attainment in relation to goals, sub-goals and the ministries’ priorities and the organisation’s strategic ambitions. Innovation Norway assesses factors that are important for the company’s goal attainment at an overarching level. Extraordinary risk assessments are conducted in the event of significant changes in the Norwegian economy or the company's assignments, or if the four-monthly reports on goal attainment show significant deviations. When necessary, risk assessments of critical functions and defined areas are carried out at a lower level.

Financial risk: The financial risk largely consists of credit risk, foreign exchange risk, liquidity risk and interest rate risk.

Credit risk: Credit risk is financial risk relating to lending activities and constitutes a significant risk at Innovation Norway. Developments in the loan portfolio are reported to the Board every four months. The risk profile is adjusted if there are significant negative changes. The most important loan commitments and commitments with losses are reviewed once a year - the latter in connection with the presentation of the annual report.

Low-risk loans are granted on market conditions. The risk must be moderate for a project to be granted funding. The risk is therefore limited by relatively stringent requirements concerning security. In addition to the risk associated with individual commitments, there is also structural risk associated with the sectoral division of the loan portfolio which differs from corporate portfolios at banks. Approximately 40 per cent is financing for fishing vessels, while the portfolio is otherwise almost equally divided between agriculture, industry and business services.

Innovation and high-risk loans are a form of lending primarily intended to help small and medium-sized enterprises that require risk mitigation in projects. These loans are granted subject to moderate requirements for security, but on the condition that the customer's ability to service the loan is deemed to be satisfactory. The risk associated with these types of loans is relatively high.

Loss reserves have been established for innovation and high-risk loans and guarantees. The objective of loss reserves is to enable Innovation Norway to mitigate risks for innovative projects with growth potential and thus contribute to the realisation of more profitable projects that would otherwise find it difficult to obtain sufficient venture capital in the market. For a smaller portion of this loan portfolio, the European Investment Fund (EIF) shares the risk of loss with Innovation Norway on a 50/50 basis.

Foreign exchange risk: Innovation Norway has revenues and expenses in foreign currencies. The foreign exchange risk associated with settlement of costs is largely offset by the company having bank accounts in foreign currencies for the most important currencies the company trades in. The risk is limited and over 80 per cent of the costs are in Norwegian kroner.

Liquidity risk: The liquidity risk is the risk associated with Innovation Norway's ability to fund an increase in loans and the borrower’s ability to settle its obligations when these fall due. The size of borrowings and loans is managed through letters of assignment from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries. The liquidity risk is therefore minimal.

Interest rate risk: The interest rate risk is managed and reduced by adapting lending terms to borrowing terms. Borrowings shall correspond to lending and secure the liquidity required to operate the loan schemes. The borrowings reflect the interest rate profile of the loan portfolio.

Operational risk: Operational risk consists of the potential sources of loss related to Innovation Norway’s ongoing operations. Operational risk primarily includes the risk of direct or indirect loss, or loss of reputation caused by inadequate internal processes, systems, human error, or external events. At Innovation Norway, operational risk includes: human capital risk, security risk (including ICT security), ICT risk, client dialogue risk, operational risk (financial management and efficiency) and legal risk (compliance risk and contractual risk). Innovation Norway is governed by the Norwegian Security Act.

In 2021, Innovation Norway continued our emergency preparedness work relating to the coronavirus situation. The company's critical role in society during this period is adequately managed through ongoing emergency preparedness work that supports the company’s employees at offices in Norway and in the international markets.

Innovation Norway's risk management work is organised in accordance with the Institute of Internal Auditors’ (IIA) three lines model, in addition to external control and confirmation functions. Primary responsibility lies with the first line of defence, i.e. operational management, and ultimately through the responsibility of all employees to perform their work in accordance with the authorisation, instructions, policies and guidelines that apply for each individual. All managers at Innovation Norway have a special responsibility to establish and implement risk management and internal controls within their areas of responsibility.

Legal and Compliance staff are headed by the Chief Legal Officer, and their objectives include preventing and detecting repeat violations of laws and rules. Together with the risk management function, they are also defined as the second-line function responsible for monitoring, assessing, advising on, aggregating and reporting the risk situation. The third line of defence consists of the internal audit, which, on behalf of the Board and management, audits whether the enterprise has adequate processes for risk management and internal controls. The internal audit is contracted to an external provider. The external auditor and Office of the Auditor General also constitute external control and verification functions.

Two internal audit projects were carried out in accordance with the adopted audit plan for 2021. The internal audit has not revealed any serious failures in the internal control.

Going concern

The annual accounts have been prepared on the basis of a going concern assumption. The accounts give a true and fair picture of the company’s assets, liabilities and results. No circumstances have arisen after the end of the financial year that are of significance to the evaluation of the company and that are not mentioned in the annual report and pertaining notes.

Working environment

The past two years have been demanding for Innovation Norway’s employees and have involved an extraordinarily large workload that was triggered by the crisis assignments the company has received, the uncertainty created by the Government’s review of the business support system and the expectations to reduce costs, and the difficulties the infection control measures have imposed on the company and our customers. The Board has had a continual focus on the working environment, competence and capacity and, when liaising with management, has been concerned with contributing to the most predictable frameworks, well-functioning cooperation and a good working environment.

A good working environment is a prerequisite for attracting, retaining and developing employees at Innovation Norway. The ability to cooperate on issues pertaining to the working environment is a crucial factor for success, and the cooperation at Innovation Norway plays an important role in this work. The management, employee representatives and safety representatives assist in creating conditions for an operational and good working environment in practice.

Fixed structures have been established for the cooperation, and works councils and working environment committees have been established both centrally and at the regional offices in Norway. For our foreign offices, permanent meeting places have been established between the safety representatives and management. Both the head offices and regional offices are linked to an external corporate health service.

A number of extraordinary measures were implemented in 2021 to strengthen the psychosocial working environment during the pandemic, including the expansion and establishment of several digital health services (including expanded health insurance and digital psychological assistance). A health campaign was also conducted to motivate employees to engage in more physical activity in their everyday lives, as well as to strengthen engagement and cohesion across the company's national and international offices. Financial contributions to improve home office use were introduced, in addition to guidelines and principles for working from home. The latter entails that employees who wish to partly work from home when the pandemic is over (up to two days per week) can enter into an agreement for this. Working from home is voluntary and based on mutual trust between the employee and employer.

The sick leave rate was 3.81 per cent in 2021, compared with 3.68 per cent in 2020. By comparison, the sick leave rate in public administration and the armed forces, as well as national insurance schemes under public administration, was 4.6 per cent in the third quarter of 2021. No injuries were reported in 2021.

The breakdown of those who were on parental leave in 2021 was 59 per cent women and 41 per cent men. Women took an average of 18 weeks of leave in 2021, while men took an average of 11 weeks.

Employee turnover was 13.4 per cent in 2021. This includes temporary employees, employees on assignment (including temporary resources associated with Covid-related crisis packages) and retirees. Turnover of permanent employees (excluding retirees) was 8.85 per cent.

62 new employees were recruited externally and 42 of these are permanent positions. 50 internal recruitments were conducted. Targeted efforts are being made to increase digital expertise both through new hires and by also improving digital expertise internally.

An employee survey was conducted at the company at the end of 2020 with a response rate of 81 per cent. The results confirm a high level of enthusiasm at the company when compared with other public sector enterprises. The results were presented in December 2020 and the company actively worked with the results during all of 2021. Central and local safety representatives have been involved in the follow-up in the form of status briefings and information on action plans and activities both in local and central working environment committees. The company plans to conduct a new survey in spring 2022. Innovation Norway is considered an attractive workplace by both the company’s employees and potential job seekers. In a survey conducted by Universum in 2021, Innovation Norway was voted the second most attractive employer among people in the work force with an education in economics.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

Innovation Norway seeks to have a diverse workforce and to contribute to the Government's inclusion programme (inkluderingsdugnad). Equality, diversity and inclusion are incorporated into the company's routines and guidelines, and run along three axes: recruitment and career development, skills development, and pay and working conditions.

The company has a diversity statement in all job advertisements and specifically encourages people with immigrant backgrounds, disabilities or gaps in their CVs to apply. In addition, terms used in the texts are balanced when concerning requirements for qualifications, experience and diversity. This is to ensure a broader range of candidates among potential applicants, expanded perspectives and thus increased expertise for the company. Innovation Norway has also participated in the Directorate of Integration and Diversity’s campaign for ethnic diversity.

In the work to recruit digital resources, Innovation Norway has also collaborated with external partners to strengthen diversity efforts and to achieve increased digital competitiveness. The collaboration entails that candidates with limited formal education and/or professional experience have the opportunity of a job interview, and enables new employees to link their new job with further development and study.

The company complies with the guidelines for terms of employment for managers in government enterprises and corporations.

The Board of Directors consists of eleven members, of whom six are women and five are men. At the end of 2021, the proportion of women in the executive management group was four out of eight (50 per cent).

The proportion of women at Innovation Norway was 56 per cent at the end of 2021. The proportion of new employees who are female during 2020 was 58 per cent.

The proportion of women by position level:

The pay ratio for women compared to men; all of IN:

* The negative deviation is lower for the average base salary for women.
** Employees in Norway only.

The table shows the difference between the average pay for women and men. Differences in pay due to seniority are not taken into consideration in the calculation. The overview includes pay data for all employees of IN, and some differences can be explained by different wage and labour markets per country.

Innovation Norway has an active and conscious attitude towards pay scale in connection with new appointments and internal mobility, which is important given the level of mobility in the company. We are generally aware of the differences in pay at individual position level and actively work towards safeguarding the principle of equal pay.

Internal restructuring and organisation

Organisation according to customer requirements (IN Balance)

Innovation Norway's strategy for the period 2020-2025 provides direction and will strengthen the ability to prioritise efforts that contribute to the best possible goal attainment. The strategy also forms the basis for a new divisional structure, which was established on 1 January 2020. The changes have been implemented with the purpose of simplification for customers, increased efficiency in implementation, and better internal coordination and uniformity.

The company strategy stipulates that our focus must be on customer needs and on simplifying from the customer’s standpoint. This requires the customer divisions to organise according to customer needs, not services. As a final part of the organisational development in the wake of the strategy, the IN Balance project was implemented in the spring of 2021. IN Balance involves an adjusted departmental structure at level 3 of the customer divisions Society and Industry and Exports and InvestIN. This resulted in the establishment of three customer portfolio teams: Commercialisation and Growth, Innovative Restructuring, and Exports; each of which are headed by a portfolio director, of whom two were externally recruited in autumn 2021. The objective of IN Balance is to strengthen implementation capabilities and cross-sectional cooperation. This is necessary to enable the customer support services to satisfy the needs of customers in a cost-effective, uniform and customer-friendly manner both at home and abroad, and thereby achieve Innovation Norway’s overarching strategic objectives.

Complying with the requirement to reduce implementation costs (IN 2022)

The expectation stipulated in the 2022 national budget is that Innovation Norway shall cut costs totalling NOK 100 million by the end of 2024. The demand for rationalisation comes as a direct follow-up of the Government's review of the business support system.

The Board has decided to initiate a restructuring process to realise cost-cutting of NOK 100 million over three years. The Board estimates that this will entail an estimated 70-80 per cent in FTE costs, and that a downsizing process will need to be carried out in accordance with the Norwegian Working Environment Act.

Based on this, the company has initiated a restructuring and development programme (IN 2022) that will look at how we can simplify the services we offer to the Norwegian business sector, streamline Innovation Norway’s operations and implement necessary cost reductions. IN 2022 consists of a number of development and simplification projects that together will make Innovation Norway a more efficient, customer-oriented and dynamic organisation.

The Board believes that the presented progress plan will safeguard the strategic core of the company, consideration for the number of jobs in rural areas and consideration of Innovation Norway's customers.

The digital change

Innovation Norway has implemented a digital change of pace and our digital business development has been strengthened in line with the strategic ambitions. Through flexible methodology and continuous improvement, this forms the basis for both transformative and disruptive changes that are to the benefit of customers. An increasingly larger proportion of Innovation Norway's services and products have digital components. This contributes to a more accessible Innovation Norway anywhere and at any time that suits the customers. More digital products make it possible to free up time and to focus on relationship management and sparring. The work with digital business development proceeded at a good pace during the final six months of 2021.

Liability insuranse for members of the Board and general manager

Innovation Norway has taken out insurance for the members of the Board and general manager for their potential liability to the company and third parties. The insurance coverage is NOK 50 million per claim, which is also the total insurance amount per year.

The external environment

Innovation Norway's activities have not contributed to pollution of the external environment over and above what is natural for an organisation of this kind. The head office and the regional offices are Eco-Lighthouse certified. A guide for sustainable operations at Innovation Norway was prepared in 2021. This provides guidelines and strengthens the company’s decision-making basis within operational matters such as property and equipment management, travel and procurement. The company’s travel policy was updated in January 2022 and now emphasises, for the first time, that environmental factors must be taken into consideration when assessing both the need for travel and the manner in which necessary travel takes place. This is in line with the new guidelines in the travel agreements for public entities that were renegotiated at the start of February 2022, and which place an emphasis on environmental factors.

Corporate social responsibility

Innovation Norway actively works to promote responsible business conduct, both within the company and among the company's customers, suppliers and partners.

Innovation Norway's expectations and requirements for our employees, employee representatives and consultants who perform services for us are described in the Code of Conduct and Anti-Corruption Policy. The Code of Conduct also contains a separate chapter on business ethics, which stresses that ethics and responsible business conduct must be included in the assessment criteria when using our services and selecting collaborative partners and suppliers. Innovation Norway’s ethical framework and principles for responsible business conduct are also topics in the company’s procedure for training new employees. Innovation Norway also has detailed guidelines for 17 impartiality, the right to hold honorary positions and secondary occupations, as well as rules for ownership and securities trading.

As part of the work of incorporating principles for responsible business conduct throughout Innovation Norway, a team of resource personnel has been established. This expert team supports the programme coordinator for responsible business conduct in the strategic implementation of the work in the various divisions. This structure has resulted in greater awareness of the issue within the entire organisation.

Innovation Norway conducts ethical dilemma training, and the purpose of this training is to ensure that everyone who performs work or services for Innovation Norway is aware of the applicable legal and ethical framework, and is able to identify and tackle situations that might arise.

The company's sustainability strategy (2021-2025) constitutes the framework for Innovation Norway's work on strengthening the principles for responsible business conduct among customers. It uses the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as a basis. The requirements for customers and partners are set out in the document "Policy for Good Business Practice". These are based on the same guidelines and principles – all of which are recognised standards for responsible business conduct. Innovation Norway is also a member of the United Nations Global Compact and complies with the commitments in the initiative.

Responsible business conduct is an integrated part of Innovation Norway's services. It is required that all parties that receive services from Innovation Norway must comply with principles for responsible business conduct in line with the stated guidelines and principles. This also entails that customers and partners conduct due diligence reviews and familiarise themselves with major areas of risk relating to their activities, and that they implement measures for managing these. Provisions concerning this are included in Innovation Norway’s standard terms and conditions for loans, grants and guarantees. Innovation Norway follows the same guidelines for conduct and product-based exclusions that the Ministry of Finance has stipulated for the Government Pension Fund Global. This entails that Innovation Norway must not support projects or companies with an unacceptably high risk of having a negative impact on people, society or the environment.

A “Financing Manual” is available to the company’s financial advisers. This contains a comprehensive chapter providing advisers with information on how to ensure that sustainability and responsible business conduct are correctly assessed in all projects and for all customers seeking financing from Innovation Norway. A guide has also been prepared for managing “red flag” cases, i.e. specific risk factors associated with responsible business conduct. Some of Innovation Norway’s services provide a special module on responsible business conduct, which has been specially adapted to companies with an international focus.

In 2021, Innovation Norway applied a risk-based approach when reviewing the portfolio of suppliers. The suppliers that are considered to be most exposed to possible labour market crime have been followed up, and Innovation Norway has received responses to how they are working to combat labour market crime. The responses show that larger suppliers to Innovation Norway have a satisfactory approach, while certain smaller suppliers have significant potential for improvement. This provides a good basis for further follow-up.

Innovation Norway has a digital whistleblowing channel that is available to both internal and external whistleblowers. The whistleblowing channel is available on the intranet and on Innovation Norway's website, and allows the company to communicate with anonymous whistleblowers.

Innovation Norway has a risk-based approach to Integrity Due Diligence (background checks) of customers, suppliers and stakeholders that Innovation Norway links customers to. Governing documentation that stipulates the instances in which background checks must be carried out has been prepared.

Allocation of profit

The 2021 accounts show a profit of NOK 229 million. For further details about the dividend rules reference is made to Note 36. The Board proposes the following allocation of the profit for the year:

War in Europe

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine escalated in February 2022 and has resulted in the most intense hostilities witnessed in Europe for many years. The international community has responded by adopting the most comprehensive packages of sanctions ever. The conflict affects the outlook for the world economy and the Norwegian economy in several ways. The hostilities and sanctions will mean less trade. Uncertainties regarding supply have resulted in increased commodity and energy prices. Price growth could increase from an already high level. This will increase business costs and reduce household purchasing power, and thereby threaten growth prospects. Some industries and businesses are more exposed than others.

The Board shares the deep concern that the situation entails for our employees located in and around the conflicting countries, as well as for the Ukrainian people and for Europe. This is a conflict that will unfold in the coming months and that will impact on Innovation Norway’s work in 2022.

Innovation Norway is in close dialogue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries regarding the situation and will continually be prepared to manage the consequences for customers, employees and collaborative partners.

Outlook for 2022

As we enter 2022, the Board considers the need for the services Innovation Norway provides to be more important than ever before. This is due to both the coronavirus pandemic and Norway’s long-term need to transform the economy. The Board makes particular note of three key areas: The need for increased and more differentiated Norwegian exports, the opportunities associated with the green transition and simplifying the public business support system for its users.

The path out of the crisis — a need for increased Norwegian exports

The economy is unstable at the start of 2022. The year started with optimism after two years of the pandemic, however the markets are now impacted by the war in Europe. There are fears of further inflation and European energy access is uncertain. High power prices have impacted households and companies over time and are likely to continue. However, high prices for energy products, particularly gas, also contributed to record-high exports during the final five months of 2021. Mainland exports increased 36.9 per cent when compared with November the previous year and ended at NOK 50.6 billion. There is also some uncertainty associated with labour shortages and unease in stock markets.

In order to maintain the living standards Norwegians are accustomed to, we must import goods and services from abroad. This is primarily funded through exports and any transfers from the oil fund. However, the same figures show how dependent Norway is on a few export industries. Oil and gas exports account for more than half of Norway’s exports of goods, and for between 35 and 40 per cent of total exports. With an ageing population providing lower revenues and increased spending for the welfare state, Norway faces a significant and important task. We need to ensure that we utilise the export potential in other industries and build new and strong Norwegian value chains for future value creation, employment and exports. The government has ambitions to create more jobs nationwide, bolster mainland investment, provide a boost to green industry and increase mainland exports by 50 per cent. There is thus a stronger need for Innovation Norway’s role as an export advisor and restructuring bank.

The Board affirms that Innovation Norway shall contribute to increasing overall value creation in the business sector by stimulating more successful entrepreneurs and contributing to Norway having more companies with growth potential and stronger, innovative business clusters. Measures for stimulating growth through exports and internationalisation will be an increasingly more important part of Innovation Norway's efforts.

The green transition is accelerating

Norway needs to establish new green value chains in the coming years in areas such as batteries, green shipping, offshore wind, hydrogen, carbon capture, circular economy and bioeconomy. This will require a strong willingness on the part of the business sector to make the change, as well as robust and well-coordinated measures. The business sector is reporting a lack of labour and capacity. The international framework conditions are changing rapidly. The EU has assumed the leadership role in the green transition and is driving the rapid phasing out of the fossil fuel industry through regulations and increased financing for green solutions. Competition between the EU and other regions of the world appears to be intensifying and confidence in international trade is more uncertain — reindustrialisation and regionalisation appear to be persistent trends.

The Board notes that Innovation Norway has a major role to play in contributing to the business sector’s green transition. Green projects dominate the portfolio and an increasing number of assignments for the green transition, such as the Green Platform, are continually being assigned to the organisation. The role of innovation agencies is changing and more assignments are being focused on solving our shared societal challenges. The Board believes that this trend will strengthen in the coming years.

A strong, diverse and adaptable business sector is essential for Norway's ability to grow and to have a high standard of welfare in the future. In order to maintain welfare growth, the Norwegian economy needs to become more diverse. We need to create more jobs, in more industries, across the country. The private sector needs to grow.

The public business support system must be simple for users

The review of the public business support system demonstrated that customers find the support system difficult to navigate. In 2021, Innovation Norway was asked by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries (NFD) to assume the role as “a gateway”, i.e. as the point of entry for the entire public business support system, including referral expertise to the other business support agencies. A common digital gateway is being developed in close cooperation with Siva, Export Finance Norway and the Research Council of Norway.

In February 2022, the Minister of Industry launched the first version of this common gateway. The objective is to make it easier for the business sector to access all public support services. Companies should not have to figure out which of the public sector agencies can assist them specifically — that is our job. A common gateway uses smart technology and allows us to continually learn more about customer needs to enable us to become more efficient and to provide them with the right services and advice.

The Board notes that the company's investments in digital transformation have contributed to added value for the customer and that the company will continue its activities with making things easier for the customer. Data-driven and automated processes will contribute added value to customers and provide a more efficient support system.

The Board affirms that Innovation Norway's role and social mission have been strengthened and will be crucial in contributing to the task of transforming the economy we will need to solve together in the coming years. Innovation Norway is well equipped to take on the tasks that lie ahead of us.

The Board would like to express its gratitude for the trust shown in the organisation by customers, clients and partners during 2021 and would particularly like to thank the company’s employees, who made an exceptional effort in the best interest of the Norwegian business sector.

Oslo, 17 March 2022

The Board of Directors of Innovation Norway

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