The big picture
Over the past two years, Norway has been through a period of great changes due to a fall in the price of oil. Up to 50 000 jobs have disappeared in the Norwegian oil and gas sector. At the same time, we are seeing established industries throughout the world facing disruptive competition as a result of new business models that are helped forward by new digital solutions.
Changes also create new opportunities, and in Norway we are now looking for "the new oil". Although few industries have the same value creation per job as the oil and gas sector, there are many interesting trends in other parts of Norwegian trade and industry. We can mention some examples:
- Entrepreneurship and innovation are now on the agenda amongst all politicians and are receiving increased attention and gaining increased access to public and private funding.
- Economic downturns make people more creative. Rogaland, the county hardest hit by the economic downturn and increased unemployment, is also showing the greatest creative spirit.
- The healthcare industry is established as a new national area of investment, with exciting initiatives such as Curida and Oslo Medtech.
- Climate technology and green competitiveness have been highlighted as growth areas, partly on the basis of the report from the committee of experts to the Government in autumn 2016.
- The fisheries and aquaculture industry is experiencing historically strong growth, with 30% growth in value in fish farming in 2016.
- "Manufactured in Norway" is an initiative to increase production of Norwegian finished goods in Norway.
A feature common to these trends and new initiatives is that they are knowledge-based, technology-intensive and have an international market.
Understanding and knowledge of intellectual property rights and assets are important factors for success in in the areas mentioned above. We can therefore expect the need for services and expertise at the Norwegian Industrial Property Office to increase. We are already seeing underlying growth in this field, and the number of applications for patents and trademarks from Norwegian applicants has increased by around 25% in the past five years. We believe that this growth will continue over the next few years. The fact that relations between Norway and China are normalising may contribute further to a positive trend for Norwegian trade and industry.
These are all welcome signs, but also necessary signs. International surveys show that Norway continues to score low on innovativeness, for example in the Global Innovation Index 2016, where Norway fell to 23rd place (13th in Europe) and where we score lowest of all on "knowledge and technology output".
Norwegian Industrial Property Office
The picture presented here requires that we at the Norwegian Industrial Property Office, as a centre of expertise for intellectual property rights, continue to enhance our services, expertise and organisation. This has to be done at the same time as we are facing the pressures of increased expectations and new needs from our customers, and demands from our owner constantly to achieve "more for less".
What will this mean for us in practice? It is not possible to plan in detail for the future, but it is said that "he who is well prepared gains more". We must therefore build up good preparedness and make the organisation capable of tackling the challenges we know are coming. This will mean, among other things, that we must
- enhance our processing of applications by
- simplifying and having fewer steps in the different application processes
- strengthening cooperation with the European Patent Office and other IPR authorities
- making use of new technology to automate tasks wherever possible
- improve customer dialogue in order to increase the quality of applications and reduce the use of resources, both for us and for applicants
- develop the role of centre of expertise for IPR by
- clarifying what level of aspiration and scope we are to have in our communication of knowledge in the area of IPR
- strengthening coordination and clarifying work-sharing with other policy implementation actors and private IPR actors
To ready ourselves for the future, in 2017 we will therefore revise the NIPO strategy for the period from 2018 and onwards. An updated and renewed strategy will help us to prioritise, set ambitious and realistic targets and develop better cooperative relationships. This will enable us to use our resources in the best possible way and contribute to "the new oil" actually becoming as profitable and successful as we all hope, and as Norway needs.
Revenue and expenditure at the Norwegian Industrial Property Office in 2016 were roughly in balance, and we anticipate further growth in revenue from the processing of applications. At present we receive gross funding and cannot make use of any additional revenue resulting from an increased number of applications. It is also difficult to predict pension expenses. Producing good financial forecasts enabling us to plan resources is a challenging task. We must therefore obtain clarification from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries about our funding model and pension contributions for NIPO in the future. The project entitled "Financing and dimensioning of the Norwegian Industrial Property Office", which was started in 2016, is to make a contribution to this.