Aiming for leading position in industrial building
Central organisations in Innlandet have now signed an agreement aiming to develop the region into an international powerhouse for industrial building with wood as the main material.
The new cluster has chosen the name Norwegian Wood Cluster and comprises organisations in the value chain for forestry, industry and building.
The management group leader is Kristin Vitsø Bjørnstad, Director of Communications and HR at Moelven. She explains that the parties have signed a binding agreement.
“We shall work towards closer cooperation to develop an internationally leading cluster for industrial and sustainable wooden buildings. Innlandet region shall be the world leader in industrial building projects using wood,” she confirms.
The organisations in the cluster are Hunton Fiber AS, Forestia AS, Boligpartner AS, Moelven Industrier ASA, Gausdal Bruvoll SA, Mjøsen Skog SA, Glommen Skog SA, Statskog SF and NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) in Gjøvik. The Directors of the different companies will all be members of the management group.
Kristin Vitsø Bjørnstad explains that Innlandet as a region has the best premises for achieving a leading position both at home and abroad.
“We have the raw materials, the industry and market proximity required. We also have the University of Science and Technology in Gjøvik, which has an ambition to be the leading educational institute within industrial wooden buildings. These all provide solid foundations for our goals,” she confirms.
Central target areas
The parties to the cluster have established several central target areas for their cooperation.
“One is an increased level of industrialisation throughout the value chain. Another is to increase innovative capacity and the third is increased expertise. We will also focus on developing the reputation of an industry that is thought of as traditional – but which is actually experiencing a significant development. We are heading at full speed towards ‘Industry 4.0’, and the entire industry has to keep in line with this development to remain competitive. We believe we will reach our goals more rapidly if we cooperate,” confirms Kristin Vitsø Bjørnstad.
School + commerce = true
On 1 January 2016, the University College in Gjøvik became part of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology or NTNU. Professor Tom Johnstad from the Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management at the University in Gjøvik explains that the clusters that have achieved most success have a close cooperation with the educational and R&D environments.
“At NTNU, we believe that the establishment of this cluster is a major and important step towards further developing the industry's contribution towards the ‘green shift’. On a global scale, the building industry represents 40 percent of our footprint, and urban wooden buildings will therefore play an important role in achieving our climate goals,” explains Tom Johnstad.
He believes that the wood industry cluster will take a leading part in this process, with ambitions to lead the way internationally within industrialised and sustainable wooden buildings.
“NTNU primarily aims to focus on the industrial and building-related aspects of the forestry and wood industry. Other professional environments, such as the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) specialise in forestry. However, knowledge of wood as a material may help form closer links between these two groups,” says Tom Johnstad.
Apprentices and vocational colleges important for the cluster
“The parties in this cluster also rely on being able to recruit talented workers and operators. We also need to offer postgraduate education to the people we currently employ so that we can follow technological developments. This is true for all the companies in the cluster, so this will be one of our target areas,” explains Kristin Vitsø Bjørnstad.
Plans to recruit a cluster leader
The cooperation agreement is binding economically for the parties, and a cluster leader will be recruited to take care of daily management of the cluster.
“Central tasks for the cluster leader will include developing actual cooperation in the cluster, ensuring cooperation on innovation between the companies and R&D groups and working on development of expertise at all levels in cooperation with the companies and educational institutes,” explains management group leader Kristin Vitsø Bjørnstad.
Door open to new cluster participants
Kristin Vitsø Bjørnstad explains that the cluster participants are now focusing on initiating specific cooperation projects. In time, we will also open the door to other companies who want to join us.
“This is not meant to be an exclusive cluster for the largest companies. Innlandet has a number of small and medium-sized companies in the forestry-industry-building value chain that will benefit from having closer cooperation with others. The only requirements on cluster members are dedication and contribution. This will ensure that each member benefits from closer cooperation,” she concludes.