Norway as Test Market of The World
Norway orway was increasingly becoming an interesting country for investments. “That’s why we established Invest in Norway in 2013 to support companies considering investing in Norway”, explains Mr Finn Kristian Aamodt, Director of Invest in Norway. Mr Aamodt continues to explain the reasons for this growing interest. “Three areas are especially extremely alluring to foreign companies. First of all, there’s clean energy. Norway has an abundance of clean energy and that is what the world needs right now. Norway is part of the solution to the energy crisis the world faces right now. So, data centres or any types of power intensive industries can be set up in Norway. Secondly, we see a lot of interest from companies in autonomous vehicles or electrical cars. Norway functions as a test bed for anyone working with electrical cars. As an example, Siemens recently set up a battery factory in Norway. And lastly, we have a lot of innovation in health care. Norway has a high amount of highly educated people.”
Companies all around the world express interest according to Mr Aamodt. Specifically, a high interest have been shown by Asian companies
“The recent Norwegian delegation to Beijing and Shanghai was a great success. More than 240 Norwegian delegates attended from politics and business; the biggest delegation I have ever witnessed since I started working for Innovation Norway in 1999. Among them 14 Norwegian CEOs from amongst others Statoil, Yara and Telenor.
On the Chinese side there was also a big commitment with over 700 political and business delegates in Beijing attending and more than 500 in Shanghai.” As an example, Mr Aamodt mentions Mr Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Alibaba and countries. One organisation already reaping the benefits of the Norwegian market and know-how is Huawei. This telecommunications giant operates in Norway as technology provider for Telenor’s mobile network. The successful collaboration could be one of many with recent developments pointing to an intensified collaboration between China and Norway.
Group who was one of the keynote speakers.
The many high level attendees signals the importance both countries gave to this event. And they all met and talked business for the next few days during nine so-called break-out sessions for specific topics.
“There are many industries where Norway has complementary technology and know-how to the Chinese companies,” Mr Aamodt continues. There were break-out sessions about the digital marketplace, green shift, start-ups, health technology, tourism and seafood. And it didn’t end at just talking. During the meeting, 19 deals were signed valued at NOK 20 billion. “We’re heading for interesting times,” Mr Aamodt concludes. Importance of investments
Invest in Norway was established to handle the increasing influx of investments coming into the country. “We needed a better way to handle the flow when the interest in Norway increased,” Mr Aamodt explains. “Also after the oil shock there was a strong need to explore other opportunities.”
According to the latest available data by Statistics Norway “foreign direct investment into Norway was NOK 1.218 billion at the end of 2015; a one per cent decrease from the year before. During 2015, the Norwegian currency, the krone, depreciated against almost all foreign currencies.” This might have at least partly contributed to the decrease. At the same time, “the inward investments from foreign investors received an income of 7.4 per cent in 2015.”
The website of Invest in Norway highlights the government’s willingness to welcome foreign investments. “Norway has always been open to foreign investments. There are about 6,000 foreign-owned limited companies in Norway with many additional branch offices. Foreign companies represent about 25% of all value-creation in Norway and about 20% of the employment. Norway had a strong growth of foreign investments during the last decade, compared to many other countries.” Norwegian ease
Norway is an interesting country for foreign companies for a broad range of reasons. “We are ranked in the top ten of 189 countries on Ease of doing Business by the World Bank. This is annually ranked and we have been in the top for several years now. We are number 4 on the IMD World Talent Report. Norway ranked among the best on the World Competitiveness Scoreboard and is even first on the annual Human Development Index making it a great place to live as well.
The reason for most of these scores is that we are a small and transparent economy. We also rank low on corruption. A deal in Norway is trusted. We have stable policies so you have predictability in term of your investments. This is a solid framework for doing business. All in all, there are no big surprises or hidden issues to worry about. It’s a very open business community and also an open political community.
Additionally, we have a population of 5.2 million with the second highest GDP per capita in Europe.” Specifically Norway’s GDP in 2016 was USD 70,400 per capita in current prices of 31 May 2017; the second largest of Europe after Luxembourg according to the World Economic Outlook Database, April 2017 of the International Monetary Fund.
Mr Aamodt continues, “Many companies invest and produce in Norway and sell to the world. For high energy markets Norway may not be a big enough market, but for other products it definitely is like electrical vehicles. Many of the companies that are in electrical vehicles really look at Norway to see what’s going on there. Norway is a good test market to learn how other markets might respond in a few years.
Additionally, it only takes one or two days to set up a company in Norway; it’s very simple, very easy and very affordable. The more important question is: is this the right place to be? Deciding that could take years. Not because it takes years to set up a business, but it takes time to decide if you’re doing the right thing. You probably want to compare Norway to other countries and that process takes time. But from the moment you decide Norway it the place to go to, it doesn’t take long. In any case, we will support the company all the way.” Helping hand
Invest in Norway helps businesses explore the opportunities in Norway. “We see a steady inflow of more interest from especially China to Norway. And we’re proactive when it comes to looking for companies that might be a good fit to Norway. We organise many types of investments seminars in China for example, but companies also reach out to us on their own accord. So, anyone interested in investing in Norway should contact us, any of our offices in Asia, or the Norwegian embassies for that matter. We will help you with your business case. We have a good network in different . communities to make sure you meet the right people and the right industries in Norway.”
Invest in Norway is an investment promotion function within Innovation Norway of the Norwegian the government.
Above left: Head of Invest in Norway, Finn Kristian Aamodt. Above: Crane operator at Hydro's Karmøy Technology Pilot construction site.