Key Take­aways from the 2015 N

Norway-Asia Business Review - - News - By Eric Baker

This year’s Nor­way-Asia Busi­ness Sum­mit, held from 16-18 April, 2015 in New Delhi, of­fered some­thing for ev­ery­one, whether it was net­work­ing, knowl­edge about spe­cific sec­tors, or ac­cess to heavy hit­ters in gov­ern­ment and in­dus­try. Here are a few of the lessons learned at this year’s sum­mit. Asia of­fers im­mense po­ten­tial, but in­vestors should not en­ter th­ese vast mar­kets with­out do­ing their homework. Com­pa­nies need to know their as­pi­ra­tions so they can de­ter­mine the right re­turn on their time and in­vest­ments. This is where In­no­va­tion Nor­way, cham­bers of com­merce and busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tions around Asia can come in handy, as they know the lay of the in­vest­ment land­scape, can help vet po­ten­tial lo­cal part­ners, and have de­vel­oped a set of gov­ern­ment and in­dus­try con­tacts to help smooth en­try in Asian coun­tries. In­vestors con­sid­er­ing ex­pan­sion in Asia typ­i­cally need to be com­mit­ted for the long haul. In ad­di­tion to the cul­tural and lo­gis­tics dif­fer­ences, it can take some time for com­pa­nies to build trust in a brand in this re­gion. Sev­eral speak­ers men­tioned their com­pany’s goal to “be lo­cal”. The most suc­cess­ful Nor­we­gian busi­nesses in Asia seem to have made a foot­print here, be­com­ing an ac­cepted part of the com­mu­nity that gives back to so­ci­ety. Com­pa­nies may need a dif­fer­ent strat­egy for each coun­try in Asia, but the back­bone of the busi­ness model needs to be aligned in the re­gion. In fact, Jo­tun (China) won the 2015 Nor­way-Asia Busi­ness Award in part be­cause it does such a good job of in­clud­ing lo­cal play­ers and hires into its busi­ness there while still mix­ing in its Nor­we­gian “pen­guins” to help in­cul­cate the com­pany val­ues in a for­eign set­ting. Part of the rea­son coun­tries are so re­cep­tive to Nor­we­gian busi­nesses is they ex­pect them to be re­spon­si­ble. Katja Nordgaard, for­mer am­bas­sador to Nor­way and ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent at Te­lenor Group, said “you must have con­trol over your value chain. You need to be trans­par­ent and take up a role in the com­mu­nity, en­gage lo­cally. You must fight against cor­rup­tion. In the long run, th­ese are all facets that help Nor­way build a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage.” Tima Iyer Utne, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent of in­ter­na­tional hy­dro and head of Southeast Europe and South Asia at Statkraft, said “A lot of the press about In­dia fo­cuses on the draw­backs, but the eco­nomic progress here the past 15 years has been stag­ger­ing. Part of the value of th­ese con­fer­ences is shar­ing our lessons learned in Asia. If Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies were bet­ter at this we would be even more suc­cess­ful here.

“You must have con­trol over your value chain. You need to be trans­par­ent and take up a role in the com­mu­nity, en­gage lo­cally. You must fight against cor­rup­tion. In the long run, th­ese are all facets that help Nor­way build a com­pet­i­tive

ad­van­tage.” Help­ing to make sense of it all was mod­er­a­tor Nisha Pil­lai, a for­mer pre­sen­ter with BBC World News who now spe­cialises in pre­sid­ing over panel dis­cus­sions and high-level di­a­logues. She tried to draw out the real opin­ions of the speak­ers, en­cour­ag­ing them to clar­ify their talk­ing points, and prod­ding them about pre­dic­tions for Asia go­ing for­ward. The sum­mit hosts, the Nor­we­gian Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion (In­dia), made sure par­tic­i­pants got a feel for the coun­try as well, plan­ning sev­eral ac­tiv­i­ties that fea­tured the siz­zle of the sub­con­ti­nent. The first night saw a daz­zling drum­ming ex­hi­bi­tion from a street band that now tours in­ter­na­tion­ally. The din­ner party the sec­ond night at­tempted to recre­ate a

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