In 1999, the Government established a fund for research and innovation, designed to ensure more stable, long-term public financing of Norwegian research. The fund was capitalised through the sale of government stocks, and in 2005 comprised approximately NOK 36 billion. Investment returns are used to support the structural priorities (internationalisation, pure research and research-based innovation), and the long-term aspects of the thematic priorities (see below). Fund resources will also be used for new measures to enhance the quality of Norwegian research.
Energy and environment
Norway creates extensive wealth, and has a strong international position, in oil, gas and hydropower. Norway is the world’s third-largest oil exporter, and the petroleum industry is its largest industry in terms of wealth creation. Norwegian hydropower expertise is considered to be world-leading. Equally, Norway is at the forefront of gas power production with CO2 capture, the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier, and in certain fields of renewable energy. Norway has excellent environmental research institutions. It is thus an attractive host country for research in the field of energy and the environment. Norway’s energy research efforts encompass the need for energy production, including petroleum activities, as well as the need for environmental protection. In other words, efforts are directed both to increasing value creation from existing energy sources and to building up the knowledge needed to develop new and environmentally sound energy systems, including methods and technology to increase energy efficiency. Important areas are petroleum production, climate research, the development of sustainable energy systems, gas power with CO2 capture, and hydrogen as an energy carrier. There is also a need to boost knowledge of energy markets, climate policies and other social factors that affect the development and use of energy. These efforts draw on research in ICT and nanotechnology.
Norway is one of the world’s largest exporters of seafood. The food industry is the country’s largest industry sector, in terms of the number of employees. The production, distribution and sale of food including the retail, hotel and restaurant industries, constitute a core part of the Norwegian business sector. However, new, cross-cutting knowledge is needed to realise the full potential of foodstuff production. Research has been a central factor behind the development of the present-day aquaculture industry, and increased research efforts will be needed to ensure that these resources can also be exploited in the future. In agriculture, Norway has advantages that can be better utilised, for example through animal breeding research and national animal health registers. There is great untapped potential for synergies between marine and land-based food production. An integrated approach to food research will make it possible to realise synergy effects between aquaculture, agriculture and the foodstuffs industry. In addition to research on foodstuff production, efforts will include research on the improvement, sale and export of foodstuffs, food safety, ICT and nanotechnology, trade policies, and international framework conditions for food production.
Norway has significant advantages in this area, as regards geographical location, traditions and scientific institutions. Norwegian coastal and sea areas are home to highly-valued natural assets and offer opportunities for significant wealth creation. Increased knowledge of the marine ecosystems and what interference they can tolerate is needed to ensure sustainable management of marine resources. In addition to oil, gas, fisheries and aquaculture, Norway has a strong international position in the maritime industry, and this sector accounts for nearly half of Norwegian service exports. The industry is knowledge-based, and will require increased research efforts in various areas, from basic materials science to advanced ICT solutions. Research on the seas will cover the use, supervision, management and investigation of resources and opportunities, and including climate research and research on the maritime sector. The focus on the seas will be relevant to the Nordic region generally, and to Svalbard, which is becoming increasingly important as a research platform, in particular.
Norway has both structural advantages and strong medical and health-related research institutions. Good health registers and large population-based health studies have made Norway a leader in population health research and cause and risk analysis. Norway has excellent medical technology, neurobiology, cancer research and preventative medicine institutions. Its well developed public health service makes it an attractive country for carrying out clinical research. Clinical research competence is vital for high quality knowledge-based treatment. A good and effective health service also requires research on health economics and organisation. Norway is also contributing to global medical and health-related research activities, with particular focus on diseases that affect developing countries, and these efforts are to be significantly strengthened. Health research will also be directed towards building up knowledge on the health of minority groups.