“When Oxford Research was established in Kristiansand in 2004, one of the first things they did was to analyze how much money Agder companies were granted for research projects. The result was depressing. Fortunately, funding to the regional business and research communities have increased significantly in recent years, but our region is still lagging behind,” says Hansen.
The 55-year-old is newly appointed Regional Manager of the Research Council of Norway in Agder. His job is to motivate and mobilize businesses and researchers in Agder to assert themselves even stronger in the competition for the research council’s funds. Hansen is looking forward to that.
“Research-based innovation is important for increased value creation and increased competitiveness for companies, and also for the public sector’s ability to deliver good services,” says Hansen.
“Therefore, it is important to strengthen relations and cooperation in the regional innovation system here in Agder. I will help increase the focus on how research can contribute to different industries, sectors, projects and processes,” says Hansen.
Tor Borgar Hansen has a master’s degree in economics from the University of Regensburg and Kiel, and a doctorate in technology, innovation and management.
After graduating, he moved back to Norway, where he started working on a large ICT project for telecommunication giant Telenor. Hansen later joined the Djuice brand, Telenor’s mobile venture, before moving on to the University of Oslo, where he was hired as general manager of Gründerskolen. The program is administered by the Center for Entrepreneurship, where Hansen currently has an assistant position as a supervisor for the master’s students.
“I met my wife while at Gründerskolen, and I am thrilled to says that she is also from Kristiansand. When our son started saying Jeg veit ikke jeg (typical phrase in strong Oslo dialect), we immediately decided to return to Kristiansand,” Hansen says smilingly.
He resigned from research institute NIFU and took on new challenges at Oxford Research in Kristiansand. At Oxford he worked mostly with evaluations and analyzes of various instruments to promote research, entrepreneurship, commercialization of research and innovation.
“Last fall, Oxford Research had an assignment for Agder County to map and analyze the business-oriented policy instruments in Agder. In the report, we focused, among other things, on the restructuring problems we face in our region. We noticed that the clusters have tremendous competence and knowledge which is absolutely crucial in such restructuring processes. Thus, we argued that this knowledge should be utilized better,” says Hansen.
He envisages that the private business sector, the University of Agder, the research institutes, politicians and the regional policy instruments cooperate closer than today.
“It all starts with a proper business policy for Agder. We have, of course, regional plans and other plans, but they seem to include everything. These plans do not provide a very good basis for prioritizing. And prioritize is what we have to do when changing our course. We don’t bet on 20 horses, we bet on two!”
“We must concentrate our efforts and focus, and have very clear strategies and policies. The private sector must be involved in carving it out, otherwise they will not contribute. After all, it is the private business community that the policy instruments are mainly designed to support. Thus, it is wise to make user participation a standard,” says Hansen.
At The Research Council of Norway, Hansen replaces Siren Marcussen Neset who is now a business developer at research institute NORCE. Hansen had his first day at work on February 1.