In April this year, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg led a delegation visited Shanghai, and met with Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong. The two sides conducted an in-depth dialogue on business, shipping and other fields, and reached a consensus on deepening cooperation in such fields as green development and cultural exchanges.
The visit to Shanghai was a fruitful one. Knut Roald Sørlie, regional director of Innovation Norway in China, recently introduced in Beijing that the two sides signed bilateral cooperation documents in various fields, including economic and trade investment, scientific and technological innovation, and medical and health care. Among them, they have signed with Shanghai Foreign Investment Promotion Cooperation Center a cooperation MOU for investment promotion.
“Together with the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce and the Shanghai Foreign Investment Promotion Center, we are committed to bringing these agreements to long-term results for Norway and Chinese companies.”
It is reported that many Norwegian well-known enterprises, including Det Norske Veritas, have set up branches in Shanghai. At the same time, Norwegian SMEs are also attracted by Shanghai's good economic and trade investment environment, and have settled down in Shanghai to launch the innovation related cooperation.
In order to promote the development of Sino-Norwegian enterprises in Shanghai, Innovation Norway in China has conducted various promotion activities with Shanghai in respect of marine economy, biotechnology, green cities, clean energy, creative industries, medical technology and welfare services.
“Norway has long been cooperating with Shanghai and we have always attached great importance to the Chinese market. At the same time, we also encourage small and medium-sized science and technology start-ups from Norway to operate in Shanghai,” Sørlie stressed.
In the future, Shanghai will continue to advance the building of FTA with the goal of building by 2020an international high-standard free trade zone that enjoys free flow of trade and investment, open and transparent rules, fair and efficient regulation, and a business-friendly environment. Against this backdrop, the reporter carried out an exclusive interview with Mr. Sørlie on questions concerning the future of Norway and Shanghai cooperation, especially the development of Norwegian small and medium-sized science and technology start-ups in Shanghai.
nHack helps small and medium-sized Nordic startups
Investment Promotion magazine: It is reported that Norwegian innovation accelerator was officially launched this September in a WeWork office in Shanghai. Could you please give a view of the enterprises participated in and the outlook of the program?
Sørlie: nHack has been operating well since its establishment and now has attracted six Norwegian small and medium-sized start-ups to operate in Shanghai. The innovation accelerator will process the loans, guarantees and equity investments according to the development of each enterprise. What I can guarantee is that the Norwegian Innovation Accelerator project is open only to the best and most qualified Norwegian enterprises.
We hope that with this platform, we will introduce the latest technologies and ideas from Norwegian enterprises to China and obtain more foreign capital support. At the same time, we also hope to learn from each other with Shanghai, deepen cooperation, and spread the latest international market information to Norway.
Innovation Norway in China has plan to expand the Norwegian accelerator from Shanghai to other cities in China, such as Beijing, Shenzhen and Hangzhou.
Investment Promotion magazine: As a major European economy, Norway has always had unique advantages in a number of industries. And it has some distinctive arrangement concerning enterprise innovation. Can you introduce these aspects in detail?
Sørlie: Norway has the world's leading technology and advantages in the marine industry. Our maritime industry has long been an important pillar of Norway's economic development. It is mainly composed of three major industries, namely, shipbuilding and shipping industry, offshore oil and gas industry and marine products.
In recent years, affected by the turmoil in the world oil and gas prices, Norway has been constantly seeking new drivers of economic development. Therefore, Norway focuses on green innovation and smart city construction, develops new industries, technologies and business formats through innovation and entrepreneurship, and adjusts economic structure through innovation.
Hope China and Norway join hands to achieve green economy
Investment Promotion magazine: You mentioned the green innovation in Norway's economic development. In recent years, Shanghai has also put forward the strategic goal of building a global science and technology innovation center. In your opinion, is there any room for cooperation between Norwegian and Shanghai enterprises in this area?
Sørlie: I think that China and Norway are both facing the same problems of economic restructuring. In this context, both countries chose the path of growth driven by innovation. Such choice reflects the consistency of China and Norway in the direction of economic transition. At present, the Chinese economy can no longer rely solely on traditional manufacturing and heavy industry to stimulate its economic development as it once did. It also needs to put into use the new driving force of economic development through mass entrepreneurship and innovation. Therefore, I think this provides a chance for both China and Norway to cooperate on green innovation.
In Norway, 98 percent of the energy is clean and renewable. Traditional fossil resources such as oil and gas are being replaced by greener, cleaner energy sources all the time. Norway needs the Chinese market to push for larger-scale application of its advanced technology and experience in the field of green innovation.
Investment Promotion magazine: As you said, there is boundless potential for cooperation between Norwegian and Shanghai enterprises. At present, many Norwegian well-known global companies have very close cooperation with Shanghai. Would you please briefly introduce the overall advantages of Norwegian enterprises and the possible areas for future cooperation?
Sørlie: At present, the Norwegian enterprises in China are mainly small and medium-sized science and technology start-ups. They are small in size and highly adaptable to changes in market trends. At the same time, Norwegian businesses focus on the integration of technology and people in encouraging innovation. It is not enough to have advanced technology alone. We also focus on nurturing people who can harness these technologies. Only in this way can technological innovations come true and be translated into practical results.
In addition, the Norwegian companies implemented flat and horizontal organization management structure. The flow of information is free and the operation of the company is efficient and transparent. People enjoy a higher degree of credit.
In the future, cooperation between Norwegian and Shanghai enterprises will also focus on our six advantageous industries, namely, marine economy, biotechnology, green cities, clean energy, creative enterprises, medical technology and welfare services. Innovation Norway in China will work with Shanghai Foreign Investment Promotion Center and other related institutions in Shanghai under the memorandum of cooperation. Both sides will work to promote visits and docking between business delegations of both sides and to achieve a two-way investment in these important industries so that both sides could have more chances to exchange and share ideas in terms of technology, capital and resources. At the same time, we will also encourage mutual exchanges and mutual assistance between SMEs of both sides so that innovative enterprises have more and better development opportunities.
Industry, academia and research linkage encourages enterprises to innovate and develop
Investment Promotion magazine: What specific policies and measures does Norway have in encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation?
Sørlie: In order to better encourage enterprises to innovate and transform their innovations, the Norwegian government has deployed a pattern in which higher education institutions, independent research institutions and enterprises jointly promote scientific research, and capital and financial support are introduced. Such model of entrepreneurship can fully mobilize the resources of all social parties to realize the integration of industry, academia and research in the aspect of scientific research and innovation implementation. We can say that Norway has provided a reference sample for other countries in terms of exploring the innovation driven development.
At the end of the interview, Sørlie expressed his confidence in cooperation with Shanghai and the outlook. He said that under the cooperation framework, Innovation Norway in China will actively cooperate with Shanghai in such fields as economy and trade, shipping, medical treatment and culture, and promote the cooperation and exchange between Oslo and its sister city Shanghai so as to promote the development of the friendly relations between the two countries.
Innovation Norway in China, together with the Norwegian Embassy in China, the Norwegian Consulate General in Shanghai, the Norwegian Consulate General in Guangzhou and the Norwegian Chamber of Commerce in China, launched the Chinese-Norwegian Innovation Investment Week in Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai from November 20 to November 24.（Cui Can，Sun Fang）