Health is something that affects every single person in the world, which also means that health-related costs are staggering. Today we’re seeing that many countries either are using a steadily increasing share of their GDP on health services, or do not have the means to build adequate health infrastructure. This is not sustainable in the long term. The pressure is on to find solutions that can both cut healthcare costs and address health needs that have not been covered before.
Ever since we discovered that we had oil, we Norwegians have become accustomed to combining knowledge and technology. We’ve become a nation of engineers, and this innovative mindset means that we’re now well-equipped for success in other sectors.
The field of health is booming – over 350 companies have made contact with Norway Health Tech and our incubator Aleap during the past 18 months – and startups account for an impressive 12 per cent of the healthcare industry in Norway today. In addition, we have a good number of scaleups. This represents an enormous growth potential, both nationally and internationally.
It would be wrong to single out one solution. I would prefer to emphasise the importance of having a multitude of sustainable solutions in the healthcare sector that together can save lives and provide good health for the patients, more efficiently than today and at low cost. This is absolutely essential in a society in which the number of elderly people and very old people will continue to grow, and more and more people are affected by chronic diseases.
If we do not take action now, we will end up in a very undesirable situation of having to prioritise. Certain treatment methods and certain patients will have to be prioritised over others – but, also, priority will have to be given to the health services over for instance education or infrastructure. This is true for Norway, as well as for the rest of the world.
Having a universal healthcare system is very high on Norway’s agenda – and is one of the things that make the Norwegian model unique. If we are to maintain this model, we have to make sure that the gap between declining income from oil and gas and rising expenses for health services can be filled with new jobs and value creation. The new and rapidly growing Norwegian health industry (growth of 10-12 per cent per year) is developing new and cost-saving solutions for the Norwegian health services, while at the same time building a growing export industry (NOK 23.6 billIion in 2016).
At the same time, much of the reason why we’ve managed to build this model is that we – in contrast to many other countries – were fortunate enough to have rich deposits of oil and gas.
Based on the global challenges and needs for health solutions, there is an enormous global market for the Norwegian health industry. In addition, I believe that if Norwegian companies discover effective solutions to existing problems nationally and globally, we have an obligation to make sure that other countries also have access to these.
With Norway Health Tech and The Explorer helping to pave the way, we can build sustainable health services nationally and internationally – while at the same time building a large health industry in Norway.
Photos (from top): Thomas Kristiansen; Bård Gudim