The big picture
Unemployment is low and is continuing to fall. Dialogue with China has resumed, and negotiations are taking place on a free-trade agreement. Joint trade with China will probably contribute to further growth in the Norwegian economy in 2018.
There are also many exciting development trends in Norwegian trade and industry. We can see that the economic downturns we have been through have made industries and individuals more innovative. There is increasing interest in entrepreneurship, and technology from the oil sector is now being put to use by other industries such as aquaculture. There is also a continued increase in the use of IPR internationally, both in Asia and in the United States. There is therefore reason to expect a continued high level of innovation activity and increased demand for NIPO's services, from both Norwegian and foreign trade industry in the future.
Norwegian Industrial Property Office
2018 marks the start of a new strategy period for NIPO. We have drawn up a strategy aimed at helping us to fulfil our purpose in a good way in years to come. It is intended to ensure that we are competitive and that there is strong demand for our services. The strategy indicates four target scenarios that describe further development of NIPO.
- NIPO should be one of the top five IPR authorities in Europe and a preferred IPR authority for Norwegian trade and industry.
- NIPO should have good knowledge of trade and industry and its need for IPR expertise.
- NIPO should contribute to a greater understanding of IPR and the role of IPR in trade and industry and society at large.
- NIPO should be an organisation that is attractive to both customers and staff at all times.
In practical terms, this means that in 2018 we will start using more customer-friendly application processes and reduce processing time, and at the same time get rid of the backlog of national trademark applications. Change is always challenging, and if the improved application processes are to be a success we are dependent on delivering good digital solutions that are effective both for customers and for staff. We must therefore, to an ever greater extent, work closely with customers and partners to achieve this goal. Changes to processes, capacity and needs for expertise will require us in 2018 to develop the organisation and, in addition, recruit new staff. In practice, it means that some staff will have to develop new skills, and acquire new work tasks and new colleagues, which will in turn contribute to the further development of NIPO.
In recent years, NIPO has developed cooperation with the public support structure for innovation, and the rest of the innovation system. In the year to come we wish to strengthen this cooperation further, both in practice and at management level.
NIPO is responsible for Norway's international work in the area of IPR. In 2018, this will include work on a free-trade agreement and the establishment of a PPH (Patent Prosecution Highway) agreement with China. Together with the EPO, we will host a large international conference on green technology and patents, and we will probably hold an assistance course on IPR in cooperation with WIPO.
Resources in 2018
The Norwegian Government is constantly signalling that it expects the modernisation of the public sector. One of our most important partners, the Research Council of Norway, recently responded to the signals by launching its own strategy for innovation in the public sector. It is expected that we as a public enterprise will develop to meet new needs and deliver new and better services without more resources automatically being provided. Our financial constraints for 2018 look like being approximately the same as in 2017. The backlog of patents has now been reduced, but the large inflow of applications we have experienced in recent years will put significant pressure on our use of resources in 2018. As mentioned earlier, we will put faster and more customer-friendly application processes into use, but this will not take full effect until some years ahead.
What about digitisation?
As part of the work on modernisation, we are continuing to develop new customer services. In 2016 and 2017 NIPO benefited greatly from DIFI's co-financing scheme in the development of new customer-oriented digital services. This co-financing comes to an end in 2018, and it will therefore be a particular challenge in future to find adequate funds for investment in ICT beyond the normal operating budget, as expected by our owners.
It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future. We have nevertheless tried to draw up a strategy for NIPO for the next five years. It will be exciting to see whether the world and NIPO develop as we believe and wish for. The future alone will tell.