User driven innovation at it's best

In the average Norwegian household, the home computer is arguably the most common sight. According to Statistics Norway (SSB), 86% of Norwegian households currently have access to computers. Over a hundred thousand employees – almost 5% of the entire population – work within the ICT industries and, in 2007 alone, ICT goods totalling more than NOK 15 billion left Norwegian shores. Norwegians are among the most technologically sophisticated people in the world, and demand excellence and innovation.

 The Ministry of Government Administration and Reform is central in the process here in the country, responsible for the Government’s administration and personnel policy, competition policy, national policy for development and coordination of the use of information technology and measures to make government more efficient and service-oriented. The Ministry has adapted an active policy for the transformation of the Norwegian society to meet the demands of the information age. It coordinates the national policy for broadband deployment and use, develops an infrastructure for a public eID, promotes open standards and universal design of public ICT and has an active policy for digital inclusion.

Norway’s expanding research community has led to new and innovative hardware and software solutions, from internationally competitive telecommunications companies such as Telenor, to niche suppliers and national initiatives - Abelia, the business association of Norwegian knowledge and technology-based enterprises, the Simula Research Laboratory and the Norwegian Open Source Competence Centre, each well-positioned to strengthen Norway’s growing global reputation within ICT research. Universities and institutions, such as the Norwegian School of Information Technology (NITH) and NTNU (the Norwegian University of Science and Technology) are at the heart of ground-breaking research carried out, in the case of the latter institution – Norway’s largest for ICT research - at world class facilities including a Marine Cybernetics Lab, a Centre for Integrated Operations in the Petroleum Industry, and a whole cluster of ICT laboratories and research centres.

 


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Open Source Software – Fostering a Culture of Sharing
At the opening of the eZ Awards in 2007, then Minister of Government and Reform, Heidi Grande Røys, highlighted the potential benefits of the rapidly growing open-source software industry. “Open source software is a key element in our ICT-strategy in Norway. It can facilitate the reuse of solutions across, and between, public bodies,” she said.

These benefits, together with what the Minister described as a “culture of sharing software”, are the focus of research at the Norwegian Open Source Competence Centre in Drammen, near Oslo. “Friprog” was established in 2008 in close co-operation with the Norwegian government and a number of similar Scandinavian projects with the aim of providing advice about the usage and implementation of free software together for businesses, public institutions, universities, colleges and R&D organizations.

The centre has further established Norway’s reputation as a haven for free software. Friprog manages a software repository, www.delingsbazaren.no, which provides the opportunity to upload and download software, as well as a comprehensive list of active Open Source projects.

The Simula Research Laboratory
Established in 2001, the Simula Research Laboratory is funded by the Research Council of Norway. Industrial cooperation is a key to the laboratory’s research, and its commitment to the need for research applications is supported by the establishment of seven spin-off companies, including Kalkulo AS and Livido AS. Kalkulo offers consulting and tailored software development in scientific computing, whilst Livido provides video streaming services for content providers and network operators. Livido’s flexible technology allows internet video streaming to be combined with good scalability and low server costs.

Amongst the laboratory’s noted projects are Geological Modeling, geoscience applications for StatoilHydro, a virtual laboratory for simulation studies - electrocardiology vizualization for Simula Research Laboratory and Visual Quality Control - the quality control of meteorological data for renewable energy giant, Statkraft.

Passion and fun is part of everyday work life in Qt Software. As a hoax for April 1, the marketing team launched a new website to teach people to pronounce Qt (cute). The site contained trolls, a kitten launcher and a “make it pretty button” that makes everything pink.

© Nokia QtSoftware


Nokia, Qt Software

The success of the Norwegian ICT industry is not going unnoticed worldwide. Trolltech, for example, is one of Norway’s most recognizable technology innovators and was acquired by Nokia in June 2008. It is now fully integrated into Nokia. The acquisition allowed Nokia to enable the acceleration of its cross-platform software strategy for mobile devices and desktop applications, and to develop its Internet services business. The Qt® software development platform now forms a horizontal software layer in Nokia, enabling innovation across devices and platforms.

“Our vision is ‘Qt Everywhere’, ” says Communications Manager Siw Hauge. “Nokia buying Trolltech is a strong validation of Qt and the people working with Qt. It also gives Qt vast new opportunities to become well known and frequently used.”

Qt is used by leading companies in more than 70 different industries, including Skype, Google, Asus and Adobe. Hundreds of thousands of commercial and open source developers depend on Qt in creating user experiences for their target groups. Qt is made by 250 individuals from more than 20 countries and, apart from its main office in Oslo, has branch offices in Brisbane, Redwood City, Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, Munich and Berlin.

Sven Kinden Iversen, Director of HR, believes that such an impressive international following has contributed to the entity’s success in attracting overseas experts. “We are in the luxurious position that a lot of software developers throughout the world have used our product, Qt – either the commercial version or the open source version – as students or private persons. Some of these developers send us applications and would like to be a part of the Oslo team working with the future development of Qt,” he says.

Elsewhere, Norwegian companies address the wide-ranging needs of businesses and the public sector. GPS, satellite communications, fibre optic technologies and mobile phones are represented, together with specialized hardware products. Norway’s leading role within the oil, gas and maritime industries also owes much to ICT research, whilst medical technology, centring on the Research Council of Norway’s VERDIKT programme, is also well-represented. The forthcoming collaborative workshop, pHealth 2009 (to be held in Oslo in June) will represent the most cutting-edge ICT available to the medical sector today. For ICT researchers in Norway, commercial interests and new solutions go hand in hand with top-class consultancy and industry applications.

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