Having made steady progress and with its original ambition well established, Norner – the privately owned research institute – is set to continue its exciting course. Some of the development initiatives being taken now are among the most exciting and pioneering since the company was spun off from Borealis four years ago.
CEO Tine Rørvik and Market Manager Ole Jan Myhre of Norner AS. (Photo by Tom Riis)
Plastics from CO2
The company’s technological development projects are often carried out in collaboration with partners facing specific challenges in their production. However, pure research projects also form a key part of activities, often involving partners such as Innovation Norway or the Research Council of Norway. One important example of this type of activity is the project in which Norner is developing technology to extract plastics from CO2.
“The project has two primary areas of focus,” explains Market Manager Ole Jan Myhre. “Firstly, it’s about developing more effective production technology for raw materials for plastics from CO2. Our ambition is to establish a pilot plant for this production here in the Grenland region. Secondly, the project is also concerned with developing specific plastic materials that can be used in conventional end products.”
Does this mean Norner will now also consider moving into manufacture of end products?
“Getting more involved in this area is certainly on the cards, among other things through the establishment of our subsidiary Norner Verdandi. But the pilot plant we’re prioritising now will focus first and foremost on providing the means for us to continue our studies in production technologies for large-scale production.”
How far in the future do you think establishment of a pilot plant will be?
“Technically speaking, it would be realistic within a period of three to five years, but it’s an ambitious project and a big investment for us. By way of comparison, our largest and most ambitious research projects at the moment involve between five and ten people.
“Norner currently has five main segments. In terms of oil and gas, we have a particularly large number of projects within plastic materials for the Offshore industry. Within Packaging, our most important projects are linked to improved distribution of foods by means of packaging development and testing for the industry. Where foodstuffs are concerned, we have played a key role in defining new methods that make it possible for foods to reach the end consumer fresh and in one piece, while simultaneously making the use of packaging as practical and cost-effective as possible. We are also important suppliers to the Pipe, Petrochemical and Automotive industries.”
Norner has made significant international breakthroughs in the Petrochemical and Chemical industries. The company is experiencing sound growth in its international client base, and an ever-increasing number of research assignments are coming from clients outside Norway, with growth particularly high in Asia.
Based on the company’s extremely positive development in Asia, it made sense for management to assess how to better organise the structure for continued international growth. From the original situation after the spin-off, when the ambition was simply to survive, the company’s 60 dedicated employees have managed to build up a new position where it is realistic to think seriously about positioning, internationalisation, growth and brand building.
In recent months this positive development has resulted in two offshoots from the company: Norner Verdandi and Norner Mimir. Norner Verdandi’s main function is to identify, assume ownership of and development profitable companies based on technology and knowledge in Norner or from other companies. Norner Mimir India has been established to strengthen Norner’s market position and customer follow-up in Asia.
What do these changes say about the company’s strategy?
“What it means is that we’ve now taken on board that we’re in the process of becoming an established name beyond Norway within our specialist areas. The target for the next five years will be to consolidate growth and, even with the obvious challenges that uncertainty in international markets entails, so far we are well on budget.”
The course has been set for further international growth, while the Norner brand will retain its solid Norwegian foundation. So as the Nornes – the goddesses of fate in old Norse mythology – continue to spin their web of destiny, the future remains bright for the company that has borrowed their name.