Mobile World Congress is in full swing already in Barcelona. In that context, I have been hired by LINK Mobility to be the host of a series of interviews with prominent figures in the industry of IT and telecom. As a part of the program we invited the minister of digital affairs, Nikolai Astrup, to visit the stand of LINK Mobility and share with us his vision about Norway as a digital nation. I have interviewed him together with the CEO of LINK Mobility, Arild Hustad. The company has grown rapidly and taken a leading roll in Europe for business to consumer dialog and mobile intelligence.
After a visit to the stand, the Minister shared his views on which steps Norway should take towards a role as a leading digital nation.
His opinion is that Norway has a good starting point. The country has been good at taking incremental steps in the transition from analog to digital. Nevertheless, the time has now come to focus on radical innovation and thus solve society’s greatest challenges. A prerequisite for this result is productive collaboration between the private and public sectors.
Arild Hustad agreed with the minister. His take is that Norway has both innovative companies and a population who are fond of using new digital solutions. These two elements will definitely help with the digital transformation of the nation of Norway.
The Minister also pointed to the trust between the public and the private as a strength that Norway as a nation can use in the future. ALTINN, which is a public digital service where data flows safely between businesses, banks, government agencies and citizens is an example in that sense.
However, trust is not the only strength that Norway and the Nordic countries can use in order to transform it into an even more digitalized society according to the Minister of Digital Affairs. As many others, he sees access to talent and talented developers as a challenge, especially when it comes to artificial intelligence. The different countries in Europe and especially the Nordic countries should cooperate. The Norwegian spirit of collaboration (or “dugnad”) is a tool that should be used somehow. The Nordic countries are also small. There is a strength in it, because we are agile and we can adapt quickly.
Furthermore, the minister of digital affairs and the CEO of LINK Mobility have some perspectives about how Norwegian companies with digital DNA could expand internationally:
- To grow internationally, Norwegian companies must learn to be more ambitious.
Norwegian companies are often linked to values such as innovative, transparent, and trustworthy. This gives us an advantage when the owners of the acquisition objects have to choose between several buyers.
- We need more access to risk capital
We have experienced a good development of the startup environment in Norway, but more risk capital must be invested in areas that are not oil or fish.
- The public sector should also invest more in digital solutions.
The government accounts for five hundred billion kroner annually in procurements. It is important that solutions based on radical innovation are also taken into account, for example when it comes to facilitating good infrastructure.
The Minister highlighted the next generation of mobile technology as an example. Rolling out 5G technology is therefore definitely a priority ahead he emphasized.
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