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10. júní 04 Atvinnuvega- og nýsköpunarráðuneytið

The Nordic Region as a frontrunner in Reserach and Innovation

The Conference:

The Nordic Region as a frontrunner in

Research and Innovation

Dear Nordic friends – and Conference participants.

It is a great pleasure to welcome you to this Conference – which is hosted by the Nordic Innovation Center in co-operation with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in Iceland. The Conference is a part of the current Icelandic chairmanship program of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

The theme of the Conference: - "The Nordic Region as a Frontrunner in Research and Innovation" - reflects in an outstanding manner the objectives and visions that the Nordic ministers responsible for Industrial Development have frequently expressed. Because of that I am convinced that the Conference will be an important contributor to the political agenda for the Nordic Collaboration - not only for the Industrial Development Collaboration – but for a more extensive cross-sectorial co-operation as well.

At the outset of this opening address I would like to stress a simple but still an important point. This is the fact that the creation of new businesses, - their growth and prosperity are key elements in our economies. By this I want to put my priority and focus on the importance of business innovation for the competitiveness of our economies and the social well being of our people.

I am of the opinion that my Nordic colleges and other Nordic policymakers will agree with me when I say - that the future development of the Nordic Collaboration within the fields of - research, - development and - innovation, must take this into consideration. This evidently means that a more holistic approach in the Nordic Collaboration – in general - must be given a higher priority than until now.

In this context it is crucial for strengthening our economic performance that we implement policies that are capable of responding to the challenges of the new Europe and the Globalization – including the increased competition for multinational research funding.

It is now the time for an increased integration, where the attention is turned towards the Nordic region as a borderless inner market and a common resource base for - science, - development and - business effort in the new knowledge society. This calls for an increased exploitation of the key elements of the infrastructure, such as: - knowledge and knowledge creation; - manpower and human resources; - research and innovation networks; and - strategic networks. The success of establishing and running such an infrastructure make the difference between success and failure in the increasingly competitive international markets.

Based on these preconditions it is not difficult to comprehend that one of issues that has to be addressed at this Conference, is the creation of a R and D environment that is the most favorable for our Nordic innovative firms. That will not happen by itself. On the contrary. It is a tedious and continuos process that first of all requires a broad range of mutually reinforcing and supporting policies. Seen from a political point of view the primary objective must be to create and harmonize these policies.

Having said this I do welcome the dynamic debate that we have had during the last year – or so – on the future of our Nordic policies for - science, - research; and - innovation.

The "White Paper on The Nordic Research and Innovation Area" – or NORA as it is frequently referred to - is an outstanding contribution to this evaluation – and I truly value the opinions presented there. It is however not a holistic approach to what is in fact a fundamental political question. Most of us are probably aware of this and can constructively accept that.

The Ministers responsible for Industrial Development decided consequently on their meeting in Sweden last fall to compliment the work already done by undertaking an evaluation of the remaining key elements which in essence relate to the economical and social consequences of the possible reforms.

The ministers agreed that this important undertaking should be the responsibility of the Nordic Innovation Center, which selected Mr. Bjarne Lindström from Aland to be the editor.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Nordic Innovation Center and Mr. Lindström for their very valuable contribution to this important task. I also thank Mr. Per Unckel, the Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, for his dedication to the reshaping of our future vision.

Ladies and gentlemen:

The growth potential of our economies increasingly depends on the effectiveness of the innovation system to – create; - diffuse; and – utilize knowledge. I therefore welcome all initiatives taken to strengthen the network between the scientific community and the businesses. I do hope that at the end of this Conference we have managed to outline joint policy objectives that will carry this discussion a good way forward - towards a fruitful conclusion.

Ladies and gentlemen.

I do wish all of us a very constructive working Conference here today.

Thank you.



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