OECD’s report on Norwegian innovation reflects new view

In June OECD published its report on Norwegian innovation and innovation policy.

It has not led to much discussion in Norway or in Europe for that matter, but it should, as it presents a new and broader view of what can make a country innovative.

Those of you who know me and my blog, know that I have been concerned about the strong R&D bias of innovation policy development and in innovation indicators.

It is not that research and development is not important for industrial innovation. It probably is even more important than we previously thought. The point is that it is only one of many ways of learning. There is design, marketing, branding and organizational change, for instance.

Moreover, if you look at research in isolation, R&D does not only deliver ideas, inventions, products, processes and services. It also makes the companies and the research institutions better at finding, understanding and making use of knowledge and technology developed elsewhere.

The OECD report covers all these factors, and argues that “the Norwegian paradox” — i.e. the fact that Norway seems to invest little in R&D, but reports very high productivity and wealth creation — is not a paradox at all. Norwegian industry is mostly very knowledge intensive, even if the companies do not invest as much in R&D as a percentage of turnover as, let’s say, Nokia or Volvo.

I could not agree more.

I have made a presentation in Norwegian giving a summary of the report. I is included below.

Understanding the European Search Engine Industry

This week Microsoft decided to focus all its enterprise search development in Norway. At the core of this new effort is Fast Search and Transfer, a Norwegian company Microsoft bought earlier this year.

This development brings up the question on what it means to have a “European” search engine industry. There are no big Norwegian owned search engine companies left, but at the same time both Microsoft, Yahoo! and Google have established research units in Norway.

Why? Because Norway has one of the best search engine development clusters in the world. They want the brainpower.

My wife Susanne and I had the pleasure of taking part in a very interesting seminar arranged by IPTS in Seville last week. The European Commission is looking for expert advice on how to secure and develop European activities in this area.

Several of the participants felt that Google had become to powerful and that the European search engine industry was all but disappearing. Therefore, they argued, the EU should invest in a European alternative to Google.

Unfortunately, I never found the time to do a study of the European search engine industry when working as a researcher at STEP/NIFU STEP. However, Susanne and I made use of our experience from editing Pandia and wrote a position paper for IPTS, called “Is there room for a European search engine industry?”

The short answer to that question is yes.