Telenor, NHH and NTNU setting up a knowledge powerhouse to develop new industries

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Some of Norway’s key knowledge institutions join forces to contribute to the country’s digital success: NHH, NTNU and Telenor are establishing an open collaboration arena for digital transformation and innovation.

Transformation, digital innovation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are at the top of decision makers’ minds and agendas. But too often, such transformation efforts fall flat. The new arena, located at NHH in Bergen, seeks to increase the success rate of Norway’s digitalisation efforts.

”For a small country like Norway to assert ourselves internationally, top players need to share and collaborate. By connecting NHH and NTNU, and by establishing an open arena based on the knowledge and expertise of large companies within commercialisation of technology, we will build a national powerhouse for digital transformation. Our ambition is to help facilitate accelerated and sustainable digitalisation of Norwegian business and industries,” said Sigve Brekke, President & CEO, Telenor Group.

The new arena, called the Digital Transformation Hub, will be located at the Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen (NHH). In addition to providing a physical space where companies, public institutions, entrepreneurs, students and academia can come together to share knowledge and exchange experiences, the agreement between Telenor and NHH will specialise on research related to technology-driven innovation, digital transformation and behavioral economics.

An arena for development, sharing and collaboration

The Digital Transformation Hub will involve existing two research centers at NHH and engage a large number of researchers and PhD candidates.

Research at the recently established Digital Innovation for Growth center will emphasize technology-driven and digital business models and how the adjustments this requires will affect strategy, organization and management. Sustainable inclusive growth and the use of, for instance, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be important topics for the research.

In addition, NHH’s Centre for Experimental Research on Fairness, Inequality and Rationality (FAIR) will collaborate with the new Digital Transformation Hub to conduct research on customers’ experiences of justice and privacy, when using digitally customised and personalized solutions.

Close cooperation is being established with business partners and other research institutions, especially the AI ​​lab at NTNU, which Telenor co-founded in 2016.

“To succeed with good applications of Artificial Intelligence, competence gaps needs to be filled both ways: business people need to understand more of technology, while technologists need to understand more about the commercial and societal implications of AI. We hope that the Digital Transformation Hub will encourage Norwegian companies to engage and learn with us, laying the foundation for improved digital competition power and further industrial development,” says Professor Kenneth Fjell, Vice Rector for Research at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH).

“Telenor applies Artificial Intelligence (AI), we at NTNU develop AI and NHH puts AI into a business context. Interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation within a broad range of subjects matter areas have been a key priority for NTNU since inception. We also want to collaborate with the best academic communities in Norway and internationally. We believe the AI Lab at NTNU and the transformation hub at NHH will contribute to mutually strengthen and improve each other, and we are looking forward to collaborating even closer,” says Torbjørn K. Svendsen, Professor and Director at NTNU Digital at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim.

Continuing investments in digital transformation of Norway

“Norway needs more companies, both established enterprises and startups, that are able to succeed based on their digital competitiveness. We are facing the ‘perfect storm’ of technologies: the Internet of Things (IoT), new network technologies like 5G and Artificial Intelligence (AI) coming together and accelerating digitalisation. We need cutting-edge expertise that will enable us to seize the opportunities created by this movement. It is about Norway’s role as a digital leader,’’ said Telenor CEO Brekke.

The establishment of the Digital Transformation Hub at NHH is another step of Telenor’s strategic efforts to stimulate Norway’s digital transformation journey:
•In 2016, Telenor initiated a national artificial intelligence initiative by establishing an open AI lab together with SINTEF at NTNU in Trondheim. Several partners have joined since and the AI ​​lab is now known as the Norwegian Open AI Lab, where companies such as Equinor, DNB, DNV-GL and Kongsberg Group also contribute with research questions, knowledge and resources.
•Telenor is also a partner of the IoT ProtoLab in Trondheim, and last year launched nationwide IoT-coverage on its 4G network. In addition, Telenor operates a free test network for IoT in several of Norway’s largest cities.
•Telenor Norway has announced 5G pilots and test projects in several locations in Norway, including Kongsberg, Trondheim, Elverum, Askvoll in Sogn and Fjordane and at Fornebu.