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Interview with Kristin Danielsen, EUREKA High Level Representative for Norway

date of publication > 09-January-2013

EUREKA talked to Ms. Kristin Danielsen, EUREKA High Level Representative for Norway. In six months, she will be the first woman to take the lead of EUREKA, a network of 40 national innovation funding agencies based all over Europe.
What is the current shape of Norway’s high-tech industries? What are its main strengths?
Kristin Danielsen: In international rankings on innovation, Norway does not generally score quite high. This is partly because of the importance of the oil industry to our economy, which is considered as low-tech. I think this is a misconception and that the oil industry is in fact a high-tech industry. And it generates innovation for other industries at several levels. For example, the know-how of platform builders is essential when it comes to building offshore farms of floating wind-turbines, another one of our specialities. There are also all kinds of suppliers that have grown around the oil industry. They are very high-tech companies which are exporting their know-how all over the world.
Another example: mining is becoming profitable again, and Norway is once again starting to export its mineral resources. Even though it is regarded as a declining sector in most European countries, we consider mining a highly innovative industry of the future. Aquaculture and the maritime industry as a whole are of course also lead sectors in Norwegian innovation. While they could be considered as low-tech, given their dependence on natural resources, they are actually where innovation happens in our country. It also has to do with a very flat social model, where workers feel able to take decisions.
In your opinion, what can EUREKA do for those Norwegian companies?
Kristin Danielsen: The first thing that comes to mind is internationalisation. Our companies need to export because, unlike Germany or China, Norway’s internal market is too small to make our businesses profitable enough only on its basis. It is also interesting to note that 80% of our exports go to Europe. When we ask participants in EUREKA projects about the benefits of taking part in EUREKA, their answer is not only about the new technologies developed, but also on the market access gained.
What will be the priorities of the Norwegian EUREKA Chairmanship and how do they relate to the Norwegian interest in EUREKA?
Kristin Danielsen: Those are still under discussion. But I can already tell you that the redefinition of the role of EUREKA in the European Research Area is very important to us. We have to work hand in hand with the European Commission, EUREKA has to more closely collaborate with the EU. EUREKA also has a role to play in putting back the words ‘industry’ and ‘innovation’ into the definition of the European Research Area.
If you could change one thing about EUREKA what would it be?
Kristin Danielsen: Simplifying the organisation.  Also, there is a big focus on Eurostars at the moment, EUREKA’s newest funding programme, which is extremely popular in Norway. But Eurostars alone cannot justify the existence of a structure as large as EUREKA and we will need to balance this.
You are about to be the first woman to lead the EUREKA Network for a year. Do you think that it makes a difference whether a woman or a man is behind the wheel?
Kristin Danielsen: No, it should not make a difference. But of course on a personal level I will bring a different style: I will not try to imitate the men that were my predecessors. Also, one of my best personal skills is said to be diplomacy, and I think that diplomacy is the best skill that I can bring to EUREKA, independent of my gender.