Pining for the Fjords

Because New Zealand (and I use the term loosely) has a fascination with everything Scandanavian See my earlier story I thought I'd paste in some news that may have slipped under your radar.

As of 1 January 2004 the new state owned company: Innovation Norway has replaced the following four organisations: The Norwegian Trade Council, The Norwegian Industrial and Regional Development Fund, The Norwegian Tourist Board and The Government Consultative Office for Inventors. Innovation Norway promotes nationwide industrial development profitable to both the business economy and Norway´s national economy, and helps release the potential of different districts and regions by contributing towards innovation, internationalisation and promotion.

This is a footnote to the home page of the Innotown 05 Conference to be held in the picturesque Norwegian village of Ă…lesund on the coast, 45 minutes north-west of the capital Oslo (as the Valkyrie fly). Apparently Ă…lesund is an Art Nouveau treasure, rebuilt after the great fire of 1902. It is on a Fjord, of course.

Joking aside; I like the sound of Innotown 05. The programme has topics like:

"Weird Ideas that Work" presented by Prof Robert Sutton from Stanford University;

"Changing Volvo: From Rational to Emotional” by Robert Malm, Brand Competence Manager, Volvo ;

"Why executives say they love innovation, but ... "Charles Leadbeater from the UK shares his experience (yup, we've all heard those 'buts...');

and loads more.

Innotown looks great. But it's a little bit oudatown.
(If there are any philanthropic sponsors out there I'd be more than happy to fly to Norway and take notes in every session...)

Ok. Is there a point to this?
Yes, I'm afraid there is.

Norway seems to me to be something of a mirror image of what New Zealand must seem like to people on the other side of the world.

Norwegian Pop Quiz 1:
Norway is famous for...?

Anybody? Come on you lot...

Heavy water factories.
Hmmm, did I read too many Commando comics when I was a kid?*
North Sea Oil...

And...I'm running out of steam.

Ok, scenic beauty, 'nice' people who drink a lot and fjords.

Remind you of anyone?

Norwegian Pop Quiz 2
Name a Norwegian consumer product (Wotan Herring Fillets don't count)

It's true. Norway is New Zealand upside down.

I'm going to push the long boat out here and guess that part of the Norwegian tourist industry involves Viking re-enactments. Their ancient arts and crafts are probably of interest, feature loads of Celtic or Nordic spirals and whorls and big canoes. I'll wager the vikings aslo had characteristic tattooing.

There is one difference. They are on Europe's doorstep and - in case you haven't noticed - we... are not.

It makes a difference, believe me.

Take another look at the announcement from the Norwegian government. Look carefully. This is important for New Zealand.

The following offices are being integrated:

•The Norwegian Trade Council,
•The Norwegian Industrial and Regional Development Fund,
The Norwegian Tourist Board
•The Government Consultative Office for Inventors.

I think it is instructive to note that the tourist board is in there. Don't you?
Can we learn something from that?

Foot note

An act of sabotage which became famous and possibly had an effect on the outcome of the World War 2, was the attack on the heavy water plant at Vemark. Norwegian soldiers, trained in the UK, were sent into action to destroy a plant producing heavy water, a liquid chemical which the Germans needed for the development of an atomic bomb. The production facilities were destroyed. Heavy water en route to Germany was also destroyed, at the cost of many Norwegian civilian lives. The outcome of the war could have been significantly different without the courage of the Norwegians. (I hope this makes up for my Norwegian jokes).

Footnote to the footnote

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