The Teknologiraadet is a public, independent body for technology assessment. The Norwegian Board of Technology (NBT) advices both Parliament and Government, and raises public debate on topics concerning technology, society and politics.
The Board was established by the Norwegian Government in 1999, after an initiative from the Parliament (Stortinget). The Parliament wanted a body for technology assessment, modeled after the Danish Board of Technology – an independent body with the Parliament as its primary addressee. This also means that parliamentarians cannot be board members – following the principle that one should not give advice to oneself.
The Government appoints the 15 members of the board for 4-year terms. The members come from academia and business and encompass broad insights in different areas of technology and innovation as well as ethics and societal issues. The Board initiates new projects, which in turn are executed by its own secretariat. Chair of the Board is currently Mrs Siri Hatlen (appointed for the 2012–2016 period). The secretariat employs nine people, including one senior executive officer, six project managers and one information manager. The secretariat is led by the Director, Tore Tennøe.
The NBT is funded by the Government, but to ensure independence, The Norwegian Research Council acts as the supervising authority.
The Board’s main tasks are:
The NBT produces policy briefs and reports to the Parliament, publishes reports, organises seminars for the standing committees and takes part in open hearings at the Parliament. Oral and written information to the different representatives and party groups are provided on request. All projects rely on the involvement of external expert groups that are led by the NBT secretariat. Workshops open hearings, and research analyses are also used to collect information and views.
All work is organised around projects. The Board decides independently which projects are adapted, and Board members are represented in all expert groups. In the end phase, the projects are presented to the relevant parliamentary standing committee, often in combination with an open meeting at the Parliament.
An important part of NBT’s terms of reference, is to further the public debate on technology and society and to involve lay people in the discussion. Hence, the NBT also functions as an intermediary between research, politics and the public, and facilitates participatory processes as well as scenario workshops.
The Norwegian Board of Technology has a budget of approximately 1,1 million EUR per year.
Every second year, the Norwegian Board of Technology decides on a core portfolio of projects for the next period. By making a biannual work programme it is possible to cover different technologies and policy areas (such as Climate change and low carbon technologies; eHealth and welfare; Internet policy and privacy; Emerging technologies), as well as different methods.
Using the concept of a »core portfolio« means that it is entirely possible for the Board to decide to move fast and decide on new projects at any meeting. The work plan always includes some spare capacity to be able to do spin-off projects, to follow up when the standing committees give clear feedback or they need input, or to respond to technological developments that were not foreseen.
In the search for new projects, the Board invites research institutes, business and industry, private persons, public administration and politicians to brainstorm, in order to obtain proposals for topics and projects for the Board’s agenda. This ensures that the Boards agenda stays transparent and open, and gives thematic inputs from many different areas of society. In 2010 we also arranged ten »idea lunches«, where the board members invited 3–4 people of their choice to engage in conversation about the future with our project managers.
In addition, the secretariat will develop an analysis of societal developments, technology trends and provide an overview of what is going on in international TA. It will also come up with project ideas.
After the idea gathering, the secretariat makes a list with short descriptions of 50–100 project ideas. The Board then selects approximately 20 projects for a closer scrutiny. All ideas are then evaluated by the secretariat, using criteria such as societal importance, technological component, political interest and added societal value. In this phase, the Board also consults MPs and policy makers to get relevant information and feedback, but not on a formalized level.
The Board decides on the project portfolio at a workshop for the Board near the end of the year. This gives room for longer discussions than at ordinary Board meetings.
The NBT expert groups are always broadly constituted. The participants originate from different institutions and areas of learning, and usually vary in their professional association with the given topic. An expert group is used to illuminate a current topic, give advice or provide policy options. The participants are chosen based on their academic expertise or practical experience in the chosen field.
An expert group will usually meet 6–8 times during a project, with 4–12 months typically elapsing between the first and last meetings. A project manager from the NBT will lead the process and do most of the writing and organising. The Board members will be briefed on the work, but the making of conclusions and recommendation in a specific project is normally delegated to the expert group.
Our projects cover a broad range of topics, but currently the focus is on openness and security, innovation in the welfare state and sustainable technology. We are also partners in international, EU-funded projects that cover the same topics.
Selected recent projects are:
The Board focuses strongly on disseminating its projects and results. Most projects are concluded with a proposal to the Parliament. The NBT’s 4-page publication summarizes the project and gives clear recommendations on the subject. We also meet with the relevant standing committee and present the project and its results.
The Board publishes reports on most projects. All publications are free and available for download on our webpage. We communicate broadly in several channels. In addition to reports and other printed material we actively use internet as a communication channel. Information on all projects is presented on our website, and we use different social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo and Slideshare. We have also made several exhibitions. The latest, »The Future of Ageing«, has travel around Norway since 2009.
As partner in the project »Kunnskap kryssar grenser« (»Knowledge across borders«), all our open meetings and seminars are broadcast online. This ensures both lower emissions (people don’t have to travel to Oslo to participate) and that people all over the country (and the world) can see the presentations of our projects.
There is ample evidence that reports of the NBT are used in policy, e.g. in issues related to eHealth and telecare, nanotechnology, and privacy. Several of our projects have set the agenda for politicians and media. Most of our projects make it to national newspapers, news sites, and TV.
One example is our project on eHealth, which in spring 2011 was the main story of the front page of Norway’s biggest newspaper Aftenposten, with several follow-ups in the days after the launch. The Board’s Director also kicked off a debate for politicians and stakeholders on national television.
Our project »You decide!« (teaching material on privacy and use of Internet), has been used by almost 1 million pupils all over the world. It started in Norway in 2007, and has since then been adapted to 16 countries.
Director: Tore Tennøe
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Fax +47 23 31 83 01