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Economic activity and the knowledge infrastructure in the Oslo region

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This report is an overview of existing information on the Oslo region, drawn up as part of the Oslo region RITTS project. The objective of this part of the project is to collect, summarise and interpret existing information relevant to production, innovation and technology transfer in the Oslo region. The material covered is of three kinds: Firstly, the project overviews and discusses existing literature in the form of reports, articles, and books which cover aspects of regional innovation, regional industrial policy and industry performance in the Oslo region. Secondly, the project collects and summarises relevant industrial statistics on output, employment and industrial structure for the region. Thirdly, the project describes the basic elements of the supply infrastructure in the areas of technology creation and transfer in the Oslo region. In addition, the report does two other things: It provides an overview of relevant data sources and databases for empirical information on the Oslo region It incorporates an annotated bibliography in Norwegian and English on Oslo regionIn terms of studies of the Oslo region, the literature is large. There are a significant number of studies of important industrial clusters, mainly written within the framework pioneered by Michael Porter. These include studies of the food industry, health-related (pharmaceutical and medical equipment) industry, the printing and other media-related industry, energy-related technological industry, shipping and maritime industry, the IT-industry and retailing. For all these sectors, performance conditions were evaluated, and concrete proposals were made for policy action which could improve the prospects of growth and competitiveness in the industries. An important argument emerging from these studies is that Oslo is the most important Norwegian region in terms of the creation of new companies in new sectors. Oslo and Akershus have the highest shares of employment of IT-qualified staff among the regions of Norway.The second part of the report deals with economic activity in the Oslo region. A first important trend is a long term shift in industrial structure, with sustained growth in service sector activities; these now make up more than 80% of economic activity in the region. The most important service activities are retail trade, transport, and the residual category 'other services' . In manufacturing, there are two main clusters of activity, in the food sector and in printing and publishing. There are smaller but significant activities in chemicals and in electrical and optical engineering. However the main growth sector, in terms of share of output, is printing and publishing, which now has over 40% of all industrial employment.Oslo support a major 'knowledge infrastructure' in the form of research institutes, universities, science parks and consulting firms. We estimate approximately 75 non-university research institutes in all fields, 3 science parks, and 20 higher education institutions with approximately 60,000 students. The technological and R&D capabilities of the research institute sector cover the whole range of relevant technologies for the region's production structure. Oslo Research Park currently has 49 firms, of which 60% are in the fields of IT and media, with the remainder spread between biotechnology, materials, pharmaceuticals and consultancy. The science park at Kjeller has major capabilities in energy and environmental technologies, aerospace, telecommunications and IT (especially satellite communications) and industrial mathematics applications. The science park at Ås has specialisation in agriculture, aquaculture, environmental sciences, forestry and food sciences. Finally the region has a wide range of venture capital institutions, consultancies and technology transfer institutions.Keywords: Akershus, clusters, industry, industrial structure, innovation, innovation system, knowledge infrastructure, Oslo, Oslo-region, R&D, regional development, regional policy.

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Paper provided by The STEP Group, Studies in technology, innovation and economic policy in its series STEP Report series with number 199901.

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Handle: RePEc:stp:stepre:1999r01

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