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Kristin Halvorsen, Minister of Education and Research in Norway.

What is the Norwegian government’s strategy for investing in and developing the life science industry in Norway?
“In December 2011, the Norwegian government put forward a national strategy for biotechnology. This strategy points out a direction for the Norwegian utilization of the technological potential in biotechnology for the period 2011–2020.

The strategy identifies four thematic areas where biotechnology can help us face the major global challenges, or where Norway has national natural advantages:

  • aquaculture, fisheries, and management of the marine environment
  • agriculture  and biomass production
  • environmentally friendly industrial processes and products and
  • health, health services, and health related industries.

In addition, the strategy identifies four overarching areas which will help to ensure that Norway develops outstanding competence in the responsible use of biotechnological knowledge. The connections between the overarching and the thematic areas form the basis for an innovative and competitive Norwegian industry. The strategy therefore emphasizes interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaborations.”

How will the government work in order to promote research in Norway?
“Over the last ten years, Norway has had an annual growth in public expenditure on r&d in real terms which is substantially higher than the average for the oecd, eu and other comparable countries. In addition, business r&d has increased annually in real terms, although the yearly growth rate is somewhat lower than in the oecd, eu and other countries like Austria, Denmark and Finland.”

“Biotechnology is a substantial rese-arch field in Norway. Approximately nok 3 billion were used on r&d in biotechnology in 2009. The capacity and quality of Norwegian biotechnological research has improved during the last decade. Ten years of dedicated funding to functional genomics research (the fuge program) is the most important reason for this. The goal is to continue this effort by supporting research of international top class and building capacity in strategically important areas, both in public and private entities.”