Few countries in the world are better suited for modern manufacturing than Norway. Norwegians do, in fact, know how to do more than produce petroleum and fish. The manufacturing industry in Norway has a strong competitive global advantage in high-value added products.
SFI Norman is an eight year research program with the vision to develop new and multi-disciplinary research on next-generation manufacturing, and create theories, methods, models, and management tools that enable Norwegian manufacturers to thrive in global competition.
Norman was established by the Research Council of Norway as a Centre for Research-based Innovation in 2007. The objective is to support long-term research that promotes innovation and competitiveness in the manufacturing sector. SFI Norman is a close collaboration between 16 leading Norwegian manufacturing companies from a wide range of industries and R&D departments from universities and research institutions.
Norwegian manufacturing has a unique potential in the global economy, but its success will depend upon continuous innovation in products and processes.
The Norwegian Manufacturing Future (NORMAN) centre is based on the assumption that Norwegian manufacturing has a promising future, especially in the making of high-value and technology-intensive goods. The availability of skilled labour, competence-intensive products, high levels of productivity and the capacity to innovate, combined with very strong infrastructure, will continue to give Norwegian companies an advantage. This view is also confirmed by a recent study of manufacturing companies in Western Europe, which confirmed that Norwegian and other Scandinavian countries have a strong competitive advantage in high-value added manufacturing products (KPMG, 2004). The national academic level within manufacturing is high, and there is a long and close relationship between academy and industry.
Globalisation is a key challenge facing Norwegian manufacturers. Customers are sourcing an increasing proportion of their components from low-cost countries. The competition from Eastern Europe - with its cost advantages and a skilled labour force - remains strong and the development of the Chinese market is gaining rapid momentum. All this represents challenges as well as opportunities for Norwegian manufacturers. We therefore argue in line with MANUFUTURE (2004), that future prosperity in terms of economic growth, sustainable development and viable employment cannot be met without a continuing presence of a strong manufacturing industry capable of achieving and maintaining technological and manufacturing leadership. Norwegian industry needs to work intensively to create next generation products and processes, and research-based innovations are therefore crucial.