Breaking down barriers with new network for women. From left: Annette Stephansen (NORCE), Katinka Bratland (BTO), Mona Leirgulen (BTO) and Marit Eggen (Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL)).

New network for women in sea and energy sectors

Women in the sea and energy sectors in western Norway have now gained a new network for career development.

The network, “Vest Ut og Fram”, will strengthen women’s role in research projects within the non‑renewable energy, maritime and marine sectors.

The Norwegian Research Council has granted funding to the initiative, which seeks to expand the number of female project managers in these traditionally male‑dominated industries.

The network is currently recruiting women from both industry and research institutions across western Norway.

Encouraging innovation

“It is important for us that the start of the network does not become a target in itself, but that everyone involved should have a real benefit from the network and that we actually start new projects,” says Annette Fagerhaug Stephansen, project manager for the network and a senior researcher at NORCE.

The network will explore how research can be used within business environments. Stephansen notes that one of the main challenges here is in achieving good cooperation between small and medium‑sized businesses (SMBs) and academia.

“Vest Ut og Frem” seeks to strengthen such cooperation by creating a network of committed and motivated young women with an interest in R&D and innovation, and who wish to become or are already project managers.

“In this way we want to get research into practice and practical everyday life into research,” explains Stephansen.

Close cooperation with clusters

Organizations across western Norway, including NORCE, NCE Seafood Innovation Cluster, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences and BTO, have joined together to support the network.

The project is collaborating with business clusters along the Norwegian coast, and has links to the international market.

“In the seafood cluster, we are working hard to increase the expertise and attractiveness of the industry to achieve sustainable growth among our partners,” says the head of the Seafood Innovation Cluster, Tanja Hoel.

“We strongly believe that an innovation network will help boost innovation capacity in a future‑oriented industry.”

The project was started as a result of the Norwegian Research Council’s program FORREGION. The program aims to “increase value creation, competitiveness and adaptability across the country”. At least 40% of the funds allocated in the program are aimed at women, yet it has proved difficult to achieve this.

“We want to do something about this and have therefore put together a network of women from academia (including PhD candidates) and the industry that will help western Norway to deliver on FORREGION’s goal,” says Katinka Bratland, business developer at BTO.

The project will be based on meetings, visits to industry, information sharing and an international field trip, and it will extend over 16 months.

Do you want to join or know someone who should be in the women’s network? Contact Katinka Bratland for more information: