Oslo Innovation Week held the annual ‘Wool-day’

Sara Warming
Posted on
Thursday, 29 October 2015
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The global market is changing. New technology, recognition of the global climate threat, and an interest in local origin can all be important drivers when trying to re-establish a big national value chain in the textile industry in Norway. This was the basis for the annual ‘Wool-day’ held under Oslo Innovation Week at NHO.

At the opening of Oslo Innovation Week, tech and startups were what was mainly talked about – terms perceived synonymous to innovation. However, the ‘Wool-day’ had another intake to the term; technology itself does not lead to innovation. People’s ability to exploit technology is what enables this and what drives new development.

Once, Norway had a value creating textile industry using Norwegian wool. A result of the recent globalization, however, has been that textile production has been moved to cheaper locations in Asia and that foreign wool is imported for the remaining Norwegian industry. This has lead to an industrial fragmentation and a strong reduction in production competencies, handcraft and use of Norwegian wool in so-called “Norwegian” products. A gap has arisen in the value chain between raw material, design and production.

The speakers at this years ‘Wool-day’ were living proves of the entrepreneurship now trying to reverse the development. A new generation of designers, enterprises and brands are driving a “re-industrialisation” of the Norwegian textile industry. The use of new technology provides the possibility to upscale production capacity. 

Internationally, Norwegian products are in demand at a price that makes production in Norway a realistic option. This market position can be strengthened by the Norwegian textile industry, as long as the link between raw material, design, production and brand is reinforced, enabling the industry to meet the demand in e.g. Japan and China. 

The ambition with the ‘Wool-day’ was to gather the network of entrepreneurs who are currently trying to redefine and readjust the Norwegian wool and textile industry. These entrepreneurs are examples of people making industrial innovation possible, using new technologies and bringing new products and services to the market.