Minister of Trade and Industry receives valuable input from managers at Herøya Industrial Park
“I think this has given us some good feedback on things we work with.” Monica Mæland (Conservative), Minister of Trade and Industry, had this to say in her summing-up of the discussion with managers at Herøya Industrial Park today. “This feedback confirms that we can facilitate matters for industry even more effectively".
Monica Mæland, Minister of Trade and Industry, listens intently to Gunnar Bråthen of Bilfinger Industrial Services.
Monica Mæland, Minister of Trade and Industry, set aside much of her day for meeting industry representatives in Grenland. After a meeting with Ineos in Rafnes, it was time to head for Herøya Industrial Park for a discussion with the management of the industrial park and representatives of some of the companies active there. What do you think of the framework conditions, and what do you think the Government can do?
Greater productivity The Minister of Trade and Industry pointed out that the Government is particularly concerned about increased productivity and competitiveness.
“Grenland is dominated by companies in global competition which have repositioned themselves and are about to reposition themselves. This is why it is intriguing to hear their views,” said the Minister before passing the microphone on to Thor Oscar Bolstad, Director of Herøya Industripark AS.
Piloting important “Our emphasis is on hosting facilities and making life easier for the companies in the park so that they can concentrate on their core business. HIP wants to help develop new technologies and processes by paving the way for pilots and demo systems,” explained Bolstad.
“However, we can see there is a financial gap at the transition point from R&D to the piloting phase. We have to secure finance through this phase so that we can reduce the risk and increase the chances of commercial success,” emphasised Bolstad.
Thor Oscar Bolstad, Herøya Industripark AS, provided an overview of the industry in Grenland and Herøya.
Pilot system a given For Yara in Porsgrunn, piloting has been a given for many decades now.
“We have the Research centre, we have the factory facilities, and we have six or seven pilot projects running at present. Our technological success has come about because we have been successful with these efforts,” said Per Knudsen, factory manager at Yara.
Bilfinger Industrial Services is committed to growth and development. They invest heavily in apprentices within the company’s specialist fields – more than 30 of them.
“Maintaining this level in future will present us with a challenge if industrial maintenance declines and no new business is brought to the district,” explained Gunnar Bråthen, section manager at Bilfinger.
Even better measures Managers from the technology companies Calora Subsea, OiW Process and Grenland Energy provided a brief overview of the challenges faced by entrepreneurs when they come to finance research and innovation.
Allan Boye Hansen of Calora Subsea pointed out that the net effect of the SkatteFUNN R&D tax incentive scheme is not good enough, and that the work required for reporting as part of various support programmes takes up a lot of time. “This should be standardised and simplified.”
Susan Heldal, general manager of OiW Process, and Roman Steuber, manager of Grenland Energy, explain that small technology companies are also struggling to enter into dialogue with major potential customers, even if they are competitive.
Shortage of early-phase capital Morten Braatø, manager of incubator Proventia, pointed out the challenge caused by a shortage of access to early-phase capital – not seed funds, but “pollen funds”. Private capital is also at modest levels in Norway because investors often invest in property, not industrial projects.
Thor-Morten Thorsen, employee representative at Herøya Arbeiderforening (Herøya Workers Association), and Tore Borlaug, NITO, also issued clear messages to the Minister of Trade and Industry. Thorsen expressed concern about temporary employment, while Borlaug called for new initiatives in order to meet the demand for engineers.