OSLO—Last year’s slump in oil prices not only ended a heady period of growth for Norway’s economy, but it also plunged the nation into its worst fiscal crisis in decades. Despite these problems, the government’s firm belief in the value of technological development has led to a promise to increase R&D spending significantly over the next five years.

Norway’s continued commitment to science is made possible in part by its having prepared during the recent boom years for the inevitable downturn. Previous collapses, for example, of its herring industry and its northern forests have taught politicians the value of tsking a long-range view of economic development.

It was not surprising, then, that a government booklet extolling the technological triumphs of Norwegian industry appeared within weeks of the start of the present crisis. Its 50 pages were filled with success stories in such fields as metallic alloys, offshore oil exploration, robotics,...

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