NORCE: A powerhouse in the cluster
– Through cluster collaboration, we gain crucial knowledge on what we should research.
These are the words of Thor Arne Håverstad, acting CEO of NORCE, one of Norway's largest independent research institutes with very versatile operations across the country and literally a powerhouse for GCE Ocean Technology.
Håverstad has been with NORCE since 2018, and has held several leading roles in the company, including two periods as acting CEO. He has also worked several years in Aker and has been both chairman and board member in other clusters.
– I thrive at the intersections between the public sector, academia, business and industry. It is very inspiring to see that our research is useful in practice, says Håverstad, who appreciates the range of NORCE's activities, both the geographical spread and the professional breadth.
NORCE is organised into three research divisions, of which Technology is the largest. Here, they research- and use technologies for in example: energy in various forms, robotics, observations and analyses of ocean and land, measurement technology, artificial intelligence, emissions to air, etc. This work also includes practical testing and piloting of new and improved products and systems.
– We must develop new sustainable ways of producing, storing and transporting materials, products and energy. That is why we are concerned with new technology, digitization and surveillance, for example with the help of drones, says Håverstad.
The other two research divisions are Climate and Environment and Health and Society and keywords for these are circular economy, the green transition and people's attitudes towards climate challenges.
– We work with research across disciplines to bring out a holistic perspective on major societal tasks. Everything from energy systems, climate change to an increase of elderly people in the population as well as social inequality.
From idea to Limited
NORCE is closely linked to several clusters, not least GCE Ocean Technology.
– With 130 companies behind us, we have a cluster which weighs in on politicians and the rest of the "power system". Here we find a nice mix of players within the oceans, technology and energy, with many intersection points that can provide new business in our far stretching country, says Håverstad and emphasises that NORCE has expertise spread along the entire coast, from Alta in the north to Kristiansand and Oslo in the south of Norway.
The company is divided into five regions, each with its own regional manager that have an overview of the various professional areas and can help cluster members on the right path.
– At NORCE, we want to find better ways of doing things. We are constantly looking for good research ideas, and in some cases such ideas can be refined towards commercialization by establishing new companies.
Håverstad mentions the Bergen-based Prototech and Gexcon as well as Sekal in Stavanger, as good examples of companies that were based on NORCE's research before becoming limited companies.
– We receive income from the sale of such companies, but we do not take dividends. Instead, the money are re-invested in even more research and development.
In 2017, five institutes were decided to merge, with start up the following year. After that, three new companies have also become part of NORCE.
– Size matters! Before we were many small units, but now we can take part in large international projects. For example, Impact Wind, which NORCE leads with GCE Ocean Technology as an important contributor, explains Håverstad.
This is about increasing the pace of the offshore wind investments. Not only in terms of technology, but also with regards to streamlining the licensing processes.
– Our community department looks at, among other things, how to increase acceptance among the population for the construction of wind power, both on- and offshore. And we look at the local politicians' challenges as they often end up between a rock and a hard place when such cases have to be decided.
NORCE has great expertise in many fields and is involved in many projects. Norce:
- leads the new national hydrogen center HyValue, which will contribute to faster decarbonisation.
- is the host institution for the Norwegian Center for GeothermalEnergy Research (CGER), where technology is developed for more efficient and sustainable use of geothermal energy.
- leads the national Center for Sustainable Subsurface Resources (CSSR), which will develop new knowledge about how the subsurface can be used in the green transition.
- is a partner in NCS 2030, led by the University of Stavanger.
- leads the SFIs DigiWells and Climate Futures, and is a partner in six other SFIs, including Smart Ocean.
- works with research and development to digitize, automate and make the industry more cost-effective.
- owns Ullrigg in Stavanger, the world's most advanced full-scale test drilling rig with unique simulation capabilities.
- bought the Risavika plant from SIVA in 2022 with the aim of developing research and innovation projects and new companies.
- recently acquired their own research aircraft and has their own "non-commercial" airline.
A lot to contribute with
This is just some of the activities of the research giant, which has a lot to offer GCE Ocean Technology's other partners and members.
– We have a lot to offer everyone who wants to create environmentally and climate-friendly energy solutions. At the same time, we benefit greatly from the cooperation in the cluster. Especially when competing companies jointly address important, overarching issues, ends Thor Arne Håverstad.
- Norwegian Research Centre AS, established in 2017.
- Research institute with over 750 employees in ten Norwegian cities.
- The NORCE group consists of over 40 wholly and partially owned subsidiaries.
- The number of employees including subsidiaries is approx. 1100.
- Turnover in the group is approx. 1.2 billion
- Has around 50 nationalities among its employees.
- About 75 percent of the researchers have a doctorate.
- The largest owners in NORCE are the universities of Bergen, Stavanger, Agder and Tromsø.
NORCE is one of 18 partners from industry, R&D, academia and public bodies, which has recently signed a new 5-year agreement with GCE Ocean Technology.
The partners in the cluster are the leading force, and the backbone of the cluster's strategic work.
The partners get access to various arenas and projects where they meet potential customers, suppliers and partners.
Here, valuable knowledge is developed and shared between the cluster's +150 partners, members and collaborators.