GCE NODE is defining its new strategy. At the Top Leader Forum in Kristiansand this week, 80 managers from cluster companies provided input.

In a digital survey, the managers answered a series of questions about the cluster’s most important tasks going forward. The survey was prepared by Marit Sæther, Executive Director at KPMG, which is the consulting firm assisting GCE NODE in the strategy process.

Answers from the survey will provide a foundation on which the new strategy will be built. The first draft is scheduled to be presented to the GCE NODE Board of Directors in March/April, while the strategy work should be finalized before the summer of 2024.

“We are in the process of learning what the people in the administration and participating companies think about GCE NODE’s role and focus areas,” said Sæther.

Company managers provided feedback to the strategy process in a digital survey.

Based on the answers in the survey, these were identified as GCE NODE’s most important tasks going forward:

  1. Assist participating companies in the transition
  2. Facilitate innovation processes
  3. Influence policy makers
  4. Driving offshore wind initiative
  5. Strengthening GCE NODE’s position through a focused strategy

Over the next weeks, more input into the strategy will be given by the GCE NODE administration, participating companies and the GCE NODE board.

Sæther also asked the participants what challenges the companies are likely to face between now and 2030. Access to competent workers were at the top of most lists, followed by changing markets and the need for new business models.

“We must ask ourselves this question; what problems are we going to solve? Afterwards, we need to find the right measures to solve them. My best advice to everyone who participates in the insight process, is to fall in love with the problems, not the solutions,” said Sæther.

She announced that a more comprehensive survey will be sent to the companies during January and February.

Tom Fidjeland, CEO of GCE NODE, and Marit Sæther, Executive Director at KPMG, were pleased with the response from the participants at the Top Leader Forum.

“Playing it safe and hiring people with the same background as yourself, will not contribute to a diverse workplace”.

Admitting such previous mistakes when recruiting, Tom Fidjeland, CEO at GCE NODE, warned against a too narrow-minded approach when searching for talents. In his introduction to a recent seminar on Effective Recruiting Strategies and Best Practice, Fidjeland urged cluster companies to build more expertise in this field.

Bjørg Hansen, Vice President HR at HMH, said search for qualified personnel is high on HMH’s agenda. Adopting the best recruiting practices and promoting a proactive attitude to hiring, are musts if you want to find the best talents.

“Unemployment rate among engineers is close to zero, and six out of ten engineers in technology companies report that they are considering changing jobs. We are working hard to keep our best people and attract new talents,” said Hansen.

Competition for skilled workers is getting tougher, according to Bjørg Hansen, Vice President HR at HMH.

For HMH, and others, it is all about employer branding; the communication of your company’s employment value proposition. What benefits will an employee receive in return for the skills, capabilities, and experience they bring to the company?

“Long-term focus and succession planning are important measures. If we find a talented candidate, maybe we should hire that person before there is a job opening,” Hansen said.

Bent-Ståle Johansen, CEO of Tratec, has noticed intensified competition for skilled manpower. Tratec works hard to be more visible to future employees. Participating at university career days, is among the measures taken.

“In order to come across as an attractive workplace for the new generation, we use our own employees as ambassadors. That gives us more credibility. We also have good experiences using www.finn.no when recruiting. It is low cost and effective,” said Johansen.

With activities in several geographical locations, Tratec makes a point of searching for talents locally.

“When searching your neighborhood, you will probably discover much talent and competence. People who live close to the workplace, are also more likely to stay longer,” Johansen pointed out.

More than 30 representatives from various GCE NODE companies followed the seminar on best recruiting practice.

Tore B. Johannessen, Partner in Qualified Professionals and former HR Manager at Siem Offshore, shared valuable knowledge about the hiring process. He stressed the importance of knowing what you are looking for.

“Your first step is to write a clear and detailed job specification. If you don’t know precisely what you want your new employee to do, it is hard to find the right candidate. Many companies put too little effort into a good job specification,” said Johannessen.

He also warned against falling for appearance and eloquence when you really should be focused on formal qualifications, experience, and training.

“You need a clear structure in the hiring process. Ending up with the wrong guy, can turn out to be an expensive mistake,” said Johannessen.

Attracting foreign companies to Agder and encouraging Agder companies to explore European markets. The Agder delegation was on a mission when attending the EU Hydrogen Week in Brussels.

Headed by the Agder H2 Cluster, and supported by Business Region Kristiansand, Invest in Agder and Agder County, the delegation comprised 20 people from the technology, energy, and financial side of hydrogen, in addition to researchers and university employees.

MORE: Pictures from EU Hydrogen Week

Some traveled to Brussels to sell products, some to find partners, and others to expand their international network. All traveled to learn more about an industry that has a much stronger standing in the rest of Europe compared to Norway.

“The majority of our companies have a relative short history within the hydrogen industry. They are building competence, developing technology, and learning the market as they go. For them, it is important to look for international partners, suppliers, and customers – to find their place in the hydrogen value chain,” says Tanja Erichsen, Project Manager of the Agder H2 Cluster.

Taking part in the EU Hydrogen Week seemed like a good idea.

“Participating in a key European event is definitely important for the positioning of the industry in Kristiansand and Agder in European value chains,” says Geir Haugum, CEO of Business Region Kristiansand.

Geir Hammersmark, CEO of Invest in Agder, agrees.

Geir Hammersmark, Invest in Agder.

“This has been a great arena for expanding our international business networks and highlighting the strengths of our region. Agder has a lot to offer within the renewable energy space. Combined with a strong technology base, Agder should be attractive to foreign investors. We are here to make more international companies consider establishing business in our region,” says Hammersmark.

The EU Hydrogen Week in Brussels is an annual hydrogen industry event drawing thousands of participants from all over Europe. Innovation Norway coordinated the Norwegian delegation and pavilion showcasing various companies and their technologies. Among the larger Norwegian enterprises attending the expo were Equinor, Yara and NEL.

Agder had the largest delegation at the Norwegian pavilion. The Agder delegation included representatives from Umoe Advanced Composites, Å Energi, Otechos, Oxidane, Greenstat, NORCE, University of Agder, Kvinesdal Municipality, Aragea, Business Region Kristiansand, Invest in Agder, and Agder H2 Cluster.

Å Energi at EU Hydrogen Week. Left-right: Tanja Erichsen (Agder H2 Network), Jakob Hovet (Å Energi), Jan Tønnessen (Å Energi) and Eirik Melaaen (Norwegian Energy Partners).

“At Å Energi, we are in the process of identifying suppliers and partners to implement a hydrogen pilot facility connected to a hydropower plant in Buskerud County. For us, the EU Hydrogen Week was an excellent opportunity to engage in dialogue with suppliers. The Agder H2 Network did a great job facilitating meetings and promoting the hydrogen industry in Agder. Connecting with other members in the network also added value,” says Jan Tønnessen, Strategic Advisor Business Development at Å Energi.

“Presented with the opportunity to be part of the Agder delegation, we decided to attend the EU Hydrogen Week. The organizers made it easy to participate and find value at the expo and conference. We were pleased to travel with and connect with various parts of the hydrogen value chain. During our stay in Brussels, we gained a greater understanding of how the hydrogen market moves forward,” says Even Ovnerud, Founder and Chairman of Oxidane Venture, and Board Member of hydrogen company Aragea.

Even Ovnerud is the Founder and Chairman of Oxidane Venture, and Board Member of hydrogen company Aragea.
The Norwegian pavilion at the EU Hydrogen Week in Brussels.