1Overview of public policy tools for facilitating business development: TheAgder region and Rogaland County, NorwayThe Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration’s role in facing the gapbetween available labour/skills and the needs of public and private enterprisesA central challenge for the public sector are the inequalities between availablelabour/skills and the needs of public and private enterprise. There are several bodiesand organisations in Rogaland County and in the Agder region that are involved inaddressing this issue, one that has been highlighted by the recruitment of aconsiderable number of foreign nationals to fill technical vacancies in the region inthe past three years.One very important stakeholder in this context is the Norwegian Labour and WelfareAdministration (NAV), whose mandate is to monitor and address current labourissues at all levels. NAV is thus a natural focal point of any public initiatives andplanning with regard to the labour market, and is often seen in the role of „agent ofchange‟. In order to bring together labour supply and demand, NAV provides severalinformation services, for example a job vacancy database. In addition, NAV postsmonthly labour market statistics on its website. The statistics serve to determinequalification shortages and help direct schemes aimed to meet specific demands, asthey not only list labour surplus and shortage in relation to sector, but keep an eye onthe long-term unemployed including those on full or partial benefits.NAV also provides information about Norway in general and the Norwegian labourmarket in English (and partly other foreign languages). Thus, people from foreigncountries, who can fit specific labour shortages in different regions and branches, areaddressed. With its EURES (EURopean Employment Services) Service centers NAVoffers information and other assistance to Norwegian employers who want to recruitstaff from other European countries, as well as to foreign jobseekers who areinterested in working in Norway. This also includes the organization of employmentfairs.In Rogaland, NAV posts a monthly internal listing of available posted jobs alongsidethe types of jobs sought by registered jobseekers, by order of prevalence. Known asthe “Top 20” list, it shows a persistent imbalance in the local labour market in thatavailable jobs do not match available candidates. While this kind of imbalance iscommon in many countries, its nature indicates specific needs in the region inquestion and can suggest trends to be addressed.Different organisations and companies, inclusive NAV Rogaland, publish the regional“Industrial Barometer” – a printed business activity survey – which presents thestatus of public and private enterprise and the labour market, including forecasts. Arecent issue of the Industrial Barometer explored the question of how Rogalandpresents itself to highly skilled foreign jobholders, suggesting that more can be donefor Rogaland to portray itself as an attractive place to relocate and stay, withprospects of worthwhile career development. This question has been referred to as
2“the Battle for Skills”1 in various media, indicating apparent pressing needs indifferent fields of specialisation.In any economic downturn, unskilled young men have been the first to be hit whenunemployment begins to rise. NAV‟s primary means of addressing the needs of thisgroup is its catalogue of Labour Market Training courses. Targeting the long-termunemployed, this is a regular set of schemes aimed at reintroducing jobseekers tothe job market through courses given in conjunction with market developments andlocal employers‟ needs – often large industrial enterprises. Besides offering validemployment opportunities, this allows unskilled labour to be streamed into module-based courses that in some cases lead to an upper secondary equivalent skillsdiploma. NAV is the key agent in this scheme, and is in continuous dialogueregarding unskilled labour with the qualifications authority.The central issue is how to raise skills levels and reintroduce unemployed labour toworking life, in tune with market needs for labour. NAV has a number of means,including vocational courses, vocational rehabilitation programmes, work practiceschemes and other individual programmes. The organisation has come through amajor fusion and restructuring process in recent years, and continues to improve anddevelop its tools with which to address the skills gap.One such tool is a new job and skills profile used by case workers assigned toindividual jobseekers. In the past, training schemes for the long-term unemployedhave been available to the individual based on the type benefit they were receiving,while with the current model this is directly based on their needs, as determined bytheir job and skills profile. The jobseeker completes a self-assessment formconsisting of a series of questions over 12 pages, the end result of which makes partof a skills and opportunities „survey‟ intended also to help the jobseeker to gainawareness of ways forward with support from their case worker.Information and public relation toolsBedinThe business information website bedin.no provides comprehensive free-of-chargeinformation about starting and running business enterprises in Norway. It is suppliedby the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry.KompetansetorgetThe website Kompetansetorget is an open and free-of-charge information tool whichserves as a contact forum between students at the University of Agder and thebusiness sector. Private companies and public institutions can publish projectproposals or part-time jobs on the website and students can easily search for offersthat fit their interests and education.1 “Kampen om Kompetansen”, presentation, IRIS 2008
3Development of business sites, infrastructure and public transportationSIVASIVA, the industrial development corporation of Norway, is a state-owned enterprisewhich was founded in 1968. SIVA‟s main objective is to account for economic growthand business development in the Norwegian districts. SIVA cooperates with manypartner institutions like the Norwegian Research Council, Innovation Norway and theNorwegian county councils. One important concept for reaching the main objective isto develop strong regional and local industrial clusters through ownership ininfrastructure, direct investment and knowledge networks as well as innovationcentres.To stimulate the development of clusters and to foster innovative start-ups SIVA hascreated different concepts of business environments like business and industryincubators, business gardens, as well as research and science parks all overNorway. Today SIVA owns and operates 44 business gardens and is co-owner ofanother 52 business gardens, 25 science parks and 18 industry incubatorsnationwide.Within the different types of business environments SIVA and respectively the localco-owners support entrepreneurs and small and medium sized companies withmodern infrastructure (like for example broadband and meeting rooms), businessexperience, knowledge, financing and business networks.Business gardens are generally located in less developed areas with slow growth orspecific economic challenges. They consist of different knowledge-based companiesthat shall form an innovative and economically successful network. Three of SIVA‟sbusiness gardens are situated in the Agder region (Lindesnes Business Garden inMandal, Lygna Business Garden in Lyngdal and Risør Business Garden in Risør)and five in Rogaland County (Dalane Business Garden in Egersund, FinnøyBusiness Garden in Finnøy, Hå Business Garden in Hærbø, RogalandRessurssenter in Avaldsnes, Suldal Business Garden in Sand).Science parks have a stronger focus on innovation and skill-intensive companies.Unlike business gardens they are located in bigger municipalities and are normallyeither co-owned by or located near a university. Science parks shall serve asincubators for research-based start-ups. There is one science park in Stavanger inRogaland County (iPark) and two in the Agder region (Sørlandet kunnskapspark inKristiansand and Arendal kunnskapspark in Arendal).The industry incubator concept differs from the regular incubator / science parkconcept with respect to company size. An industry incubator is usually directed to justone large already existing industry enterprise and is supposed to stimulate spin-offs.The concept was developed for regions that are dominated by either just one or fewlarge traditional industries. It is intended help these regions to build up a morediversified industry structure in order to secure future economic growth. Both theAgder region and Rogaland County locate one industry incubator each.
4Regular business sites that do not have a special focus on existing clusters or oninnovation, are not developed by SIVA, but by the respective municipalities ormunicipality-owned enterprises (e.g. Kristiansand næringsselskap).Tax measures, subsidy schemes and public investment fundsSkatteFUNNSkatteFUNN is a tax reduction scheme that is intended to enhance the economy‟sresearch and development activity. Business enterprises that are engaged inresearch and development activity on their own or in collaboration with others mayapply for a tax reduction under this scheme. The SkatteFUNN scheme, which wasintroduced in 2002, is an indirect funding scheme which is qualification-based andregulated in the statutory framework. It is open to all industry branches and all typesof companies that are subject to taxation in Norway. Support takes the form of a taxdeduction up to 20% of the costs related to R&D activity. The intended R&D projectshave to be approved by the Norwegian Research Council.There is a multitude of agencies and other institutions in Norway with acomplementary set of policy tools in order to support entrepreneurship, innovationand clusters. The national institutions often have regional units. Among the mostimportant institutions are:Innovation NorwayInnovation Norway (Innovasjon Norge) is a state owned company with offices in allthe Norwegian counties and in more than 30 countries worldwide. Innovation Norwayis the largest financer of development programmes and projects in Norway. The coregroup of clients are Norwegian companies, predominantly SMEs. InnovationNorway‟s aims are to boost innovation in business nationwide and to foster regionaldevelopment. This is done by providing or arranging financing, linking customerenterprises to know-how and helping them to build networks for their innovationprojects. Financial tools include loans for innovation projects and for investment inmachinery, equipment and buildings; founding subsidies; grants for use of advisoryservices, education, and R&D; as well as investments and guarantees for loan /payments for interests on investments.Research Council of NorwayThe Research Council of Norway (Forskningsrådet) is the country‟s official body forthe development and implementation of national research strategy. It is both aresearch funding agency, a strategic adviser and an initiator of meeting places andnetworks. The RCN has an operational role in financing research by the businesssector.The county councilsThe county councils of East- and West-Agder have a common act programme forregional development which includes funding for business development. Parts of thefunds go to support the science and business parks in the region or are used formeasures to strengthen certain prioritized business sectors. The counties‟ toolsinclude both indirect and direct measures that go directly to individual companies,e.g. small innovative start-up firms. The counties make also financial contributions to
5the existing clusters in the region. They get special grants for regional developmentfrom the Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development (socalled “551.60 measures”).CoventureCoventure is the regional operator of the Industrial Development CorporationProgram SIVA in Agder. Coventure invests in start-ups with innovative businessideas. It operates as an active co-owner in these companies and supports them intheir early stage of development by offering advisory services and by getting them incontact with important private and public institutions. In a later stage of thecompanies‟ development Coventure helps to find new investors.In addition to the mentioned institutions there is a long range of programmes thatwere designed to boost R&D and that directly or indirectly contribute to thedevelopment of clusters:Arena programmeThe Arena programme, established in 2002, is a national programme for long termdevelopment of regional business clusters with a budget frame of 30 million NOK. Itis owned by Innovation Norway, SIVA and the Research Council of Norway. Theprogramme offers both advisory and financial support to regional clusters. Theobjective is to strengthen the clusters innovative ability through a stronger and moredynamic interaction between the industry, R&D institutions, universities and thepublic sector. Support is normally not granted for more than three years. There areabout 20 regional clusters within the programme of which two are located in Agder(the EYDE process industry cluster in West-Agder County and a leisure boat clusterin East-Agder County), and three in Rogaland county (Integrated Operations, Centrefor Smart and Safe Wells, and Offshore support vessels, all related to the oilindustry).NCE programmeThe NCE programme (Norwegian Center of Expertise) includes twelve clustersconsisting of “world class enterprises in their fields”. The NODE cluster (NorwegianOffshore and Drilling Engineering) in Agder and the Culinology food cluster inRogaland are two of these. As the Arena programme NCE, too, is jointly owned andimplemented by the three main Norwegian innovation agencies Innovation Norway,the Research Council of Norway and SIVA, it has a common board with the Arenaprogramme. The programme budget is about 45 million NOK. The companiesparticipating in the NCE network are offered both funding and professional support.Financial support is given for network construction within the cluster and with externaloperators, for the development of ideas, strategies and project proposals and for themarketing of the cluster. With the programme up to 50 % of eligible costs for up to 10years can be financed.Regional research fundsFrom 2010 on this new instrument for enhancing research and innovation in theNorwegian regions comes into operation. The Regional research funds will beadministered by the county councils and are intended to finance research projects inthe business and the public sector. As the annual total amount will be distributed on
6only seven funds, the 19 counties in Norway are stimulated to cooperate for joiningone of the seven fund regions.Trade initiativesEksportfinansEksportfinans is the Norwegian credit institution for export financing. It is owned by aconsortium of banks operating in Norway and by the Norwegian Ministry for Tradeand Industry. Eksportfinans is the exclusive operator of government supported exportfinancing in Norway offers long term financing to the export industry. It provides bothexport financing for foreign buyers interested in purchasing Norwegian goods andservices as well as for Norwegian buyers with strong international links.Eksportfinans finances up to 85 per cent of the contract amount for capital goods andup to 80 per cent for Vessels. Moreover the institution arranges export loans forgoods, ships, shipping services, as well as commercial loans for export credits. Notleast Eksportfinans offers investment loans to Norwegian exporters in order to helpfinancing foreign investments, purchases and other international expansions.Kristiansand Chamber of CommerceThe Kristiansand Chamber of Commerce (Næringsforeningen iKristiansandsregionen) supports companies in their export activities by offering, forexample, practical help with formal documents, and by issuing a special toll pass thatallows temporary toll- and tax-free export of product and equipment samples.Public private cooperation in education and R&DThe Vocational Training OfficeIn Norway, the 19 county councils are responsible for upper secondary, vocationaland adult education, including apprenticeships in their region, and are key agents inthis work. Adult education involves both private and public training institutions. TheVocational Training Office (“Opplæringskontoret”) gives courses and conferences oncareer counselling efforts, within the confines of upper secondary schools locally andat four dedicated Career Centres in the county.NAV has agreed on a statement of intent with Rogaland County Council‟s VocationalTraining Authority (“Avdeling for fagopplæring”) to collaborate in the field of careerguidance and upper secondary training for adults. The aim is to strengthen theposition of job and education seekers in the labour market by offering acomprehensive training and career service with relevance to the individual. TheVocational Training Authority can assess a person‟s qualifications based on theirparticular career and training and determine the appropriate way forward in terms offurther schooling.Nationally, NAV has put in place a scheme for supporting the internal re-qualifying ofstaff in large enterprises that face transitional or structural problems (“Bedriftsinternopplæring”). The goal is to prevent redundancies, and targets enterprises that arewilling to keep existing staff members, or hire new members, that need training,providing this training within the organisation according to specific guidelines. Thistraining can then be eligible for subsidies from NAV. A related programme has been
7used in the past, targeting individuals at risk of losing their jobs due to illness orinjury.The University of Stavanger (UiS)UiS is relatively young (2004) and profiles itself with an agenda informed by creativityand innovation. Its stated aim is to educate in key with labour market needs and to bea close partner with regional business communities. To this end, and with an eye tokeeping foreign jobholders in the region, the university‟s division for continuingeducation has been renamed and re-profiled as “UiS Pluss”.Since 2005-06, a high level of growth in Rogaland has seen a related rise inemployment of foreigners in the technical/industrial sector. The issue of retainingthese jobholders, who supply needed skills, expertise and contribute to the region‟scultural diversity, has become an important issue to all recruiting and developingagents operating in labour market. While high-level technical expertise is still sought,lower-to-middle level technical staff has become at-risk due to insecurities regardingprojected industry/oil and gas developments in the near future.In 2009, UiS Pluss has liaised with public and private partners with regard to skills-update schemes for foreign specialists facing redundancy due to the internationalrecession. Several for-purchase schemes have come into place in the space of a fewmonths as individual courses or tailored course packages. UiS also offers classes inNorwegian language and society to foreigners with higher education2.Professional courses could be given (in English) within HSE, management andeconomics, and include sector regulatory framework, the Norwegian WorkingEnvironment Act, understanding local culture and more. Particular focus would be onfurthering the region‟s expertise on environmental issues and environmentalsustainability in offshore activities, with UiS as a world leader within petroleumtechnology education and geology. This sector is known to drive research forward,and the activity level in oil and gas largely determines the academic offerings oflearning institutions.UiS is also in a position to include research bodies and enterprises, both public andprivate, for development and entrepreneurship in education. One example is theiPark business innovation cluster, located adjacent to the UiS campus, spearheadedin this regard by the International Research Institute of Stavanger (IRIS). SinceSeptember 2009 UiS Pluss and the project group have addressed in more detail theshortcomings in regional education as affects these jobholders, in order to developcourses and supplementary qualification packages together with its project partners.They also actively compete with other course providers.The University of Agder (UiA)In September 2007 the former Agder University College received university status.With approximately 8500 students and 1000 employees it is the largest researchinstitution in the region. The new University of Agder (UiA) cooperates extensively notonly with other research institutions, businesses and civil service institutions, but alsowith technology, research and commercial networks in the region. Several2 Norwegian classes for foreign adults with higher education are given at a cost of €400 for 52 hours.
8businesses and organizations have signed memorandums of understanding with theuniversity, and many faculties cooperate with the companies on student projects. TheCentre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Agder, a cooperation with theresearch institute Agder Research, Innovation Norway and the CompetenceDevelopment Fund of Southern Norway, offers courses and academic studies inentrepreneurship for international students.Competence Development Fund of Southern Norway (CDFSN)The Competence Development Fund of Southern Norway (CDFSN) supports publicand private research and educational institutions, local authorities, as well asenterprises to secure jobs by raising the level of competence in the region. CDFSN isorganized as a public foundation and was created in 2000 by the fifteen localauthorities in the county of Vest-Agder. CDFSN funds can be invested in shares,bonds, unit trusts or real property. Companies and institutions that receive supportmust develop knowledge at the university college / university level.CDFSN has a main focus on four industries where the region already has a certainweight. This is the process industry (esp. material technology), maritime industries,information and communication technologies and creative industries. One example ofCDFSN‟s investments was the new-founded NODE competence centre: Thecompanies within the NODE-cluster cooperated with Agder University and theKristiansand branch of the Norwegian School of Management in developingadvanced vocational training courses that fit the companies‟ specific needs. Mainfocus was on courses in project management, mechatronics and logistics.The East-Agder development and competence fund (Aust-Agder utviklings- ogkompetansefond), established 2003, is a public foundation which is financed by the15 municipalities in East-Agder County. Main aims of the fund are to increase theregion‟s general competence, to secure existing and create new jobs. Anotherobjective in this context is to strengthen the academic environment. Eligible for grantsare public or private research institutions, higher education institutions, municipalities,as well as public or private companies that are located in the county. The grants canbe given to projects or investments that fit the aims of the fund.Programme for Regional R&D and Innovation (VRI)The VRI-Programme, initiated by the Research Council of Norway, offersprofessional and financial support to long-term, research-based developmentprocesses in the Norwegian regions. The VRI programme is designed to increasevalue creation in regional trade and industry by promoting R&D projects that bothexpand existing business areas and create new ones. One of the main aims of theVRI-programme is to foster cooperation activities between industry and R&Dinstitutions. This shall both enhance the companies‟ ability to develop their ownresearch projects and to stimulate professional researchers to interact withcompanies on R&D projects. VRI-Agder and VRI Rogaland are the regional initiativesof the programme. The VRI-programme in Agder, for example, is financed by theResearch Council of Norway, the counties of East- and West-Agder and InnovationNorway. In Agder the fundings are concentrated on three areas: the information andcommunication sector; the energy, oil, gas and process industry as well as theculture and event industry. In Rogaland the programme focuses on the energy, thefood and the maritime sector.
9Research Council of NorwayMost of the above mentioned institutions that are active in facilitating and financingclusters are also involved in public private cooperation projects in R&D. TheResearch Council of Norway granted for example 6.3 million NOK to the project"End Use of Photovoltaic Technology in Norway." This is a cooperative projectbetween the silicon producer Elkem Solar and the University in Agder with thesupport of the municipality of Kristiansand. The project has a total budget frameworkof 8.6 million NOK and also includes financing two PhD candidates.Norwegian Centre for Offshore Wind Energy (NORCOWE)Another recent example of public private cooperation in R&D was the founding of theNorwegian Centre for Offshore Wind Energy (NORCOWE). At NORCOWE, keyindustry players and research groups from Norway pool their efforts with leadingstakeholders from other countries in order to develop new, innovative solutions foroffshore wind power. The center is neither located in Agder nor in Rogaland, but boththe universities of Agder and Stavanger and several local oil and offshore-industrycompanies, as well as energy providers are cooperation partners and will withoutmuch doubt benefit from the centre‟s work in the future. The local stakeholder‟sinvolvement in the centre‟s work will most likely strengthen the two regions‟ roles asenergy clusters.TeknovaTeknova is a research institute for technology and science that carries out appliedresearch for regional firms while having a strong focus on university-industrycooperation. It was established in 2007 as a result of collaboration between theUniversity of Agder, Agder Research, and world leading industrial companies locatedin the south of Norway. Teknova offers contract research services both regionally andnationally and aims especially at contributing to more environmentally friendlysolutions (e.g. solar cell technology). As a result of the cooperation with theUniversity of Agder Teknova can use the university‟s labs and facilities.Young Entrepreneurship (Ungt Entreprenørskap)YE, founded in 2001, is a set of programmes that educate pupils and students inentrepreneurship throughout the educational system. Within these programmes theregional business sector and the schools cooperate in order to give children and theyouth a deeper understanding of business activities. The young people areencouraged to start an own business for one school year under realisticcircumstances, with teachers and representatives from local companies as mentors.The YE organizations in Agder and Rogaland are part of the YE-Norway organizationwhich itself is part of a European initiative with 37 member states. In Agder, forexample, more than 10.000 pupils and students take part in the different YE-programmes every year. The programmes are managed by representatives of bothimportant companies, public authorities and other institution in the region. Theprogrammes‟ ulterior motive is to stimulate young people to found a company in thefuture by giving them the necessary knowledge and motivation in an early stage oflife.Trainee SørTrainee Sør is a regional trainee programme in Agder that has the aim to supporthigh-skilled young people in finding an adequate first job in the region and by this
10avoiding these people to move to other regions. Within the 18 months trainee periodthe candidates work in three different private enterprises or public institutions in theregion. By joining the trainee programme the trainees build up contacts than can beuseful in the future job seeking process. The programme is also useful for thecooperating companies, because they can “test” the trainees‟ abilities before apotential regular employment in the future. The trainees‟ salaries are paid by theTrainee Sør programme.Public and industrial research and development contractsPublic research and development contracts (OFU) are binding and goal-orientedcooperations between business enterprises and public bureaus about thedevelopment of a specific new product or service. Enterprises with a correspondingknow-how can receive grants for developing the requested product or service. By thismeasure the public stakeholders can stimulate the local economy to develop a morediversified product portfolio. An important requirement is that the requested productor service is not available and that it will be developed in Norway.Industrial research and development contracts (IFU) work in the same way aspublic research and development contracts, with the difference that IFU arecooperations between two or more business enterprises. The objective is to fosterthe position of SMEs as suppliers to large companies in Norway and abroad, whichmeans that the company that develops the requested product or service has to be asmall or medium-sized one under certain definitions. The product shall preferablyhave an international dimension, i.e. that it is orientated towards overseas markets.Both the OFU and IFU-regulations are administrated by Innovation Norway.Network meetings / platforms and b2b matchmakingThere are by far too many stakeholders in Rogaland and Agder that are organizingnetwork meetings and creating network platforms to mention all of them. Almost all ofthe agencies and institutions so far mentioned in this overview support firms innetworking processes.Innovation Norway is, of course, one of the most important providers of networkactivities, but also SIVA, the industrial development corporation of Norway, hasestablished networking initiatives in order to foster innovation, especially forenterprise start-ups in the incubator projects and in the business gardens.To give just one more example the companies that join the NCE programme(Norwegian Center of Expertise) get professional support for organizing conferencesand seminars.The numerous network initiatives in Agder and Rogaland contribute to a closerinteraction between the business sector, the R&D milieu and state actors and makean important contribution to regional development.