Social hub
60David Nikel

David NikelFebruary 17, 2015

From Oslo to NYC via Berlin

The whole notion of a startup being “Norwegian” or any other nationality is rapidly becoming out of date.

Sure, a company will always be incorporated in a specific country, but is a startup really American if its development takes place in Asia, its sales office is in Dubai, and its content marketing is done from London?

Socius is a great example of a modern location-mobile startup that already counts people from Norway, Germany, Russia, the UK and the USA in their ranks. Right now, they’re based in Berlin, but the idea was born in Norway and future plans lie stateside.

Co-founder Daniel Butler told me about the move to Berlin, and the challenges of running a startup both there and in Norway:

“In Oslo there is less chance for serendipity. There are less people, the scenes are small anyway, whether that be music, art or tech, people all know each other so you hit the ceiling quite quickly. The Axel Springer accelerator in Berlin was perfect for us. It’s run by a media house and as we are a media startup it made sense, plus its partnered with an incubator in Silicon Valley so you hit the ground running with international opportunities. Berlin is a cheap place to live and has significant spotlight as a startup destination.”

“The reality is even Berlin is not as buzzing as so many people think it is, but if you manage to ride the wave of publicity then it can be great.”

Right now, Socius is doing its best to ride that wave of publicity, having secured a high-profile partnership with the Berlinale Film Festival:

“Our experience with Berlinale has proven there’s a need for the curation of social content. Of the tens of thousands of posts tagged with the numerous festival hashtags, our platform showcased around 1,700 of them, whereas if you follow through the individual hashtags, you have to trawl through a whole load of repetitive stuff.”

The future is global

A lot of great ideas are born in Norway, but Socius proves you don’t have to restrict yourself to the outdated notion of a nation’s borders to succeed with a startup. The world is out there and Socius are going after it. Are you?

Join us at the Technoport 2015 innovation conference in Trondheim, Norway, as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset in Norwegian entrepreneurs, students, researchers and investors.

3D printing future
1Jørgen Henrichsen

Jørgen HenrichsenFebruary 15, 2015

What’s Next for 3D Printing?

Industrial 3D printing has been around since the late 80’s, originally used as an easy way to make prototypes, also called Rapid Prototyping. These industrial 3D-printers was costly systems not minted for the average consumer in any way. Various 3D-printing techniques is still widely used in the industry today as prototype makers and for producing parts for different products. For the next two decades commercial 3D printing never really hit home, but as we will see, during the first decade of the 21st century, a lot of things happened.

I would go as far as calling it a revolution for small startups and entrepeneurs, as well as for the industry. There’s no doubt the ability to make protoypes of your ideas in the safety of your home is tremendously useful. Some even call the 3D-printing technology an industrial revolution. The question is; where will it end? Is it a gimmick hyped by the media? Will 3D-printers become as normal of a household item as normal paper printers?

RepRap and some basic history of 3D-printing

In late march 2005 an open source project, calling itself RepRap was founded. It is based on the idea of open source and the ability to use a 3D-printer to print parts for new 3D-printers as a cheap way to bring 3D-printing to the people. In 2006 the RepRap prototype successfully printed a part for itself. This snowballed and two years later it was reported that at least 100 RepRap machines was created by various people around the world. In 2009 the first commercial 3D-printer was released, and it was based on RepRap, coming in kit form, ready for assembly. Not much later the same year MakerBot, one of the most renowned makers of commercial 3D-printers today, released its first model.

Makerbot prototypes

Makerbot prototypes

From here the availability of printers have increased rapidly, with several more brands of printers showing up in the market, quality and precision improved on for every new model. Today, the commercial printer usually have a minimum of 0.1 mm layer height. That means that each layer of the plastic the printer adds is 0.1 mm thick, resulting in high-resolution prints with a lot of detail.

What does it mean for startups and small businesses?

For startups 3D-printing is a gateway into realizing and visualizing ideas, making prototypes fast and cheap and speeding up the rate of realization of a finished product. Think of it this way; without your own 3D printer, you have to send specs for a prototype to a company who can make it, and they will for sure not do it free. Then you have to wait for the company to make it, pack it and ship it. Then it’s picked up by the postal service, thrown into a lorry, sent to an endless amount of post-terminals, eventually making its way to a place near you.

Say this whole process will presumably take a couple of weeks, imagine making that very prototype in 5-6 hours on a 3D-printer. Of course, you have the “startup-cost” of buying the printer itself, but with saved costs for further production of prototypes and all the time you will save, it is worth the price.

I would also make the statement that it helps you, by boosting your creativity. When you have this direct and fast way of going from idea to something physical I would dare to say it’s easier, more rewarding and more fun trying different concepts and solutions. So not only does it speed up the process of prototype-production from idea to physical object, but makes it more fun, rewarding and in general, less of a hassle.

Some Applications

3D-printing does not only empower us with the ability to make prototypes for our ideas, it has a lot of other applications, blasting through borders in for example the medical industry. One company, calling themselves Organovo has set out to print functioning human tissue for medical research. It also opens new gateways for prosthetics, as a cheap way to manufacture them. Think of a child that lacks a limb, they grow pretty fast and constantly buying new prosthetics will be expensive. The ability to 3D-print cheap ones are a wonderful way to help people in that situation.

Another company, WinSun Decoration Design Engineering, have made a 3D printer that can print houses. In a 24h period it managed to set up 10 single-story houses, the machine however took the company over 12 years to make. Each house had a cost of around 5000$ to build. They also built a 5 story apartment complex and a villa. 3D-printing turn the impossible into the possible and the expensive into cheap in a lot of industries.

3D printed house

Building construction with 3D-printed parts

What will 2015 and the future bring?

Will 2015 be the year for 3D-printers to break through into the mainstream market? No doubt, we will see more advanced models, and models with more bang for the buck. They will most likely be more precise, cheaper and more available, but they will definitely not become a normal home appliance to find in most households. For that I think there isn’t enough applications for it to be attractive and worth the cost for a common guy/girl that isn’t especially interested. I think it will still be a product for enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and startups for the next few years.

Nobody can say accurately where the 3D-printer will be in five years though, and what machines will be released is left for anyone to guess. What I am sure of is that we will see development, and the big brands in 3D-printing will continue to improve and innovate. I don’t think 3D-printing is a gimmick, it is here to stay.

Into the looking glass

Jon us at Technoport 2015 – Trondheim’s meeting place for innovation – as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset on 18 & 19 March 2015. Tickets are available now.

Photo credits: Creative ToolsBre PettisWinSun

Technoport Pitch camp
60David Nikel

David NikelFebruary 13, 2015

Pitch to Win Big Cash Prizes at Technoport 2015

Today we throw open the doors to our Pitch Camp and pitching competition at Technoport 2015. We challenge you to give us your best pitch and in return, we offer NOK 250,000 worth of prizes.

Successful applicants will participate in Technoport’s Pitch Camp taking place at DIGS on 17 March from 1600–2100. At the Pitch Camp, you will participate in sales and pitching training sessions with the top eight pitches progressing to the finals the following day, live on stage at the Technoport 2015 conference.

A panel of esteemed judges will pick the winning pitchers, who will receive:

  • First prize – NOK 100,000 awarded by NTNU Accel
  • Second prize – A Connect Springboard valued at NOK 100,000
  • Third prize – NOK 25,000 awarded by Technoport
  • Fourth prize – a flex membership for one-year at DIGS awarded by TrønderEnergi

Technoport CEO Gøril Forbord explains why an entrepreneur should hit the apply button right now:

“Pitching is one of the most important skills an entrepreneur can learn. You can have the best idea in the world, but without the ability to craft your message to your audience and sell that idea, you will never have a business. So that’s why we are holding a good old fashioned pitching competition but with a twist – a pitch camp where entrepreneurs can learn the craft. The prizes are great, but really this is about a learning experience for everyone.”

To be eligible, your startup must be working to develop a scalable business model based on an innovative product or service. As a general guideline your company should be no more than three years old.

Interested?

Apply for the Technoport 2015 Pitch Camp today. Simply email a one-page description of your startup before 3 March to pitch@technoport.no

The Technoport Crowd

Angela Lamont Lunar Mission One
60David Nikel

David NikelFebruary 12, 2015

Crowdfunding a Mission to Space

We are thrilled to welcome back Angela Lamont to Trondheim to deliver one of our Technoport 2015 keynotes. Luckily for us, she’s just as excited!

“I love Technoport! It has a unique blend of some unconventional, outside-the-box thinking with the more traditional “enquiring mind” way of examining things. I like the fact that it’s different, almost experimental, yet very pertinent to practical things.”

Angela is an award-winning broadcaster famous in the UK for bringing science to the mainstream through the BBC children’s show “It’ll Never Work”. Since then she’s presented from places as diverse as Buckingham Palace, the top of a volcano in Japan and from a fishing boat in a force 8 gale (whilst doing her own sound recording, as the sound man was out of action below decks).

She’s coming to Technoport 2015 to talk about her newest project, Lunar Mission One, where she works as a Director.

If you haven’t heard about Lunar Mission One, prepare yourself to hear about one of the most inspiring open research projects we’ve heard about in a long time. An exploratory robotic mission, it will use innovative drilling technology to deliver extraordinary new insights into the origins of the Moon and the Earth.

Lunar Mission One will also be a driver for learning more about our own planet and its history. The project will help fund an open digital record of life on Earth – of human history and civilisation, and a scientific description of the biosphere with a database of species. Publically owned and accessible to all, the Public Archive is a hugely ambitious plan that could only be resourced by a project of this scale.

Angela LamontAngela explains what the exploration aspect of the mission is all about:

“Despite being categorised as a space mission, it’s really an incredibly wide project. We need engineering technologies, not just space technology but things like drilling. We need analytics similar to what happened with the Rosetta project but instead of a comet we’ll be doing it on the moon. We’re even seeking new digital storage technology, with the capability to last a billion years. With technologies changing so fast, that’s not straightforward.”

“We’ll be storing two types of time capsule. One is an archive of life on earth, species, technology, culture and so on, with the help of partners such as big museums. Also, anyone can buy a digital memory box and decide what to send to the moon. Some people will send their family tree, some people will write a day in their life, keen photographers will store their photos in it, schools around the world will collaborate, and someone is even sending their top secret chocolate cake recipe!”

But how to pay for this?

Public money for these types of projects has been limited, so Angela and her team have turned to a subject close to Technoport’s heart: crowdfunding.

“Originally, we planned for space agency funding, a small amount of Government seed funding and other traditional space funding routes. As budgets got slashed, things weren’t moving forward so we had no other option. The nature of the project was always to be global collaboration to produce the most interactive space project in history. If it was traditionally funded, people would watch it with interest, but they wouldn’t any ownership. By crowdfunding, people all around the world can buy into the project, feel part of it and stay a part of it forever.”

“By choosing the unconvential route of crowdfunding, we are actually better able to meet our original objectives.”

Hear the full story at Technoport 2015

Angela will tell the Lunar Mission One story, focusing on the crowdfunding process and lessons learned during the project to date. Join us in Trondheim, Norway, on 18 & 19 March.

Technoport 2014
2David Smith

David SmithFebruary 10, 2015

An Introduction to Norwegian Business Culture

This week, I have continued to search for jobs, attend Norwegian language classes, work with recruiters, and attend networking events and conferences here in Trondheim in an effort to make myself a better candidate for job opportunities. I have learned very quickly that Norway has one of the most competitive and technical job markets in the world. My last blog post focused on some of the interesting aspects of US business culture and this post will focus on some of my reflections of Norwegian business culture thus far.

More than just oil

Norway is known for being an oil-wealthy nation and rightly so but that does not mean that Norway relies only on its oil exports as the main source of revenue. On the contrary, Norway (and Trondheim in particular) is one of the most technologically advanced and innovative societies in the world. Far from the days of fish, potatoes, and a strong reliance on agriculture, Norway is now a world leader in many technological sectors. In fact, Norway was ranked the #1 most prosperous country in the world for the sixth year in a row in 2014, according to the Legatum Institute’s Prosperity Index.

Priority of education

In the US, education is highly valued and the name of your university carries almost as much weight as your actual degree field. In Norway, all schools are viewed as being relatively equal and grades are commonly the most important factor. One of the biggest differences in Norwegian education is that students choose their intended career field very early on in life. Grades are extremely important and you can only receive a Masters or PhD in something that directly relates to your previous education. This in particular has been very difficult for me because I have a Bachelor’s in politics and international relations but wish to pursue a Masters in business. In the US, most people tend to get a mixed background of education as they progress through life, often moving from social sciences to business or from engineering to law, for instance. It also leaves me in a difficult place in terms of job search.

I think there are upsides and downsides to both approaches. Few people truly understand what they want to do at a young age so flexibility in degree choice makes sense; however, it is very understandable that in order to pursue a higher degree you should have previous training in that field. Regardless, Norway’s education system is world-renowned and the universities are especially good at teaching the math, science, engineering, technology, and business fields.

Never be late!

In my previous blog, I wrote about the importance of time management in US business culture; what I did not realize is that Norway pride’s itself on being one of the most punctual countries in the world. I found this out the hard way yesterday when I was two minutes late for an informal resume help meeting. In a follow-up email after our conversation, the person wrote “Next time, we can also talk about the topic of how Norwegians view the topic of being punctual”. When I asked my girlfriend, who is a HR coordinator, about this I was told very politely but very seriously “Norwegians pride ourselves on being on time. We are the second most punctual country in the world behind the Germans. We believe that if you are not on time, then you do not care”. It was a lesson that I will never forget. In the US, we are very timely but being delayed a few minutes is never a very big deal. Needless to say, I will be at least 15 minutes early for any meeting or business function from now on.

Job security

In Norway, it is quite difficult for an employer to fire an employee after the initial 3 month trial period. It is also uncommon for employees to be fired for under performing. Compared with the US, this is quite a novel concept. In the States, employees can be fired with almost zero notice, although 2 weeks is common notice. Although there must be proper grounds for firing an employee, job security is a key topic that is always at the back of Americans’ minds. It does make many of us work much harder, but it is also extremely stressful, especially if you have a family to support.

The Technoport Crowd

Bridging the income inequality gap

Norway ranks #1 in the world for overall equality, according to the Human Development Index, Norway also has some of the lowest paid CEOs in the world, in comparison with fellow employees. There is a much smaller gap between income classes in Norway and this translates into a much more overall feeling of equality. Compared to the United States, which has some of the most striking income gaps in the world, this is a new concept for me. I believe it enhances feelings of fairness, equality, and respect.

A casual workplace

In Norway, attire is generally more casual and working relationships are a bit more informal than in the United States. For instance, at my girlfriend’s company, she shares cake and soda with her coworkers and even the CEO on Fridays. In fact, the CEO sits at an open desk right next to her. This is quite a big difference from my working experiences in the US where CEOs work in plush corner offices down long, beautiful hallways guarded by security officers while most employees work in tightly crammed cubicles several floors below. Aside from banking and finance industries, casual attire is also common in most working environments.

Work-life balance

This is a key difference that sets Norway apart from the rest of the world. In the United States, we often feel like we live to work; in Norway, the approach is much more that people work in order to live. At first glance, Norwegian working hours appear somewhat lax, as normal business hours start and finish promptly from 0800-1600. In fact, you would be lucky to reach even a CEO after 1600. The truth of the matter, however, is that Norwegians are extremely efficient and task-oriented at work and when the working day ends, they are on to more important things such as family.

In Norway, family takes a huge priority even at work. It is not at all uncommon for someone to leave work 30 minutes early regularly in order to pick their kids up from school or take them to sports practice. They also can use sick days to take care of children if needed. This is in stark contrast to business in the USA where you are expected to work your full day and find a sitter or nanny to take care of your children. Sporting events, gym memberships, health classes, event discounts, leadership classes, and team building exercises are also commonplace and widely offered to employees.

Parental leave, Norway v USA

In the USA, there is no paid parental leave required by law. Mothers and fathers may each take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. This often results in women who stay at work up until the baby is ready to be born and returning sometimes as soon as 1-2 weeks after giving birth. The physical and emotional stress that this can put on families is absolutely enormous. In Norway, on the other hand, parents get up to 12 months paid leave for 49 weeks at 100% salary or 59 weeks at 80% salary (split between them but there are some requirements).

By law, the mother MUST take 9 weeks paid leave after the child is born and the father MUST take a total of 14 weeks paid leave before the child turns 3 years old. Employers are generally very respectful of the parents’ choice in how to use the rest of the paid leave days. To me, as an American, this is absolutely incredible that a country cares so much about the health and welfare of it citizens and children that such parental leave policies are in place. A standing round of applause for you, Norway.

Equality is essential

This is hands-down one of my favorite aspects of Norwegian culture. Norway is staunchly pro-equality and works very hard to promote fairness and general welfare in all aspects of life. This week I attended a conference entitled “hvor bled et av alle jente”, which means “where have all the women gone” in business roles. The topic focused on women in leadership positions and equality in the workplace. Representatives and panelists included members from a variety of different business industries. It focused on the leadership, innovation, quality of work, and spirit that women bring into the workplace. It is good to see so much open and healthy discussion on the importance that people of all genders, races, beliefs, and backgrounds bring into the workplace.

Although Norway is a primarily heterogeneous culture and very proud of their background and traditions, the lifestyle and business culture here is very open and welcoming to all people which allows the country to be a melting pot for diversity, thought leadership, understanding, and values.

Gi Bort Dagen

Volunteering for all

In Norway, volunteering is a key aspect of work life. Many organizations encourage employees to volunteer in their local communities and will often allow some paid time off for those who wish to participate. Recently, I was introduced to one such idea that is put on here in Trondheim by Engasjert Byrå.

The idea is called Gi Bort Dagen, which roughly translates to “Give Away Day”. This idea came about when Marianne Danielsen realized there was an extra day in her calendar. Now a yearly event, on this day (February 26 this year), companies and employees are encouraged to clean up their offices, work space, or other areas and donate any unneeded items to charity. Volunteering in other services such as health, development, and children’s programs is also encouraged. As an American, small things like this that show the massive support, respect, and caring nature that Norwegians share, has truly helped me to understand why Norway is one of the happiest countries in the world, as ranked by the Human Development Index.

Summer time off

In Norway, employers are required by law to offer 25 paid vacation days per year, plus public holidays. Compare this to the incredible 0 (yes, that’s correct, ZERO) paid vacation days required by law in the USA. In the US, 15 paid vacation days is the average given to employees. So, no wonder that when the ice begins to melt and the sun comes out again to play, the Norwegians commonly take off about 4 weeks in the summer. During this time, business slows to a crawl and people will rarely even check their work emails. It is expected that in the summer, you enjoy time with friends, family, and nature.

Conclusion

There are some very stark contrasts between US and Norwegian business culture, primarily in income equality, holiday leave, job security, and work-life balance. While many of the advantages which Norway provides to employees are becoming more common in the USA, especially in leading companies like Google, there is still much catching-up to do. It is no wonder that Norway is ranked as the world’s happiest country.

Photos: Technoport 2014 & Maria Peltokangas

Global GPS
60David Nikel

David NikelFebruary 9, 2015

FourC Look to Connect the Dots

As the Internet of Things gathers pace and infiltrates every area of our daily lives, business opportunities are everywhere.

Trondheim-based FourC have designed an open infrastructure platform for large-scale IoT deployments. As with most technical solutions, it’s best explained with a use-case.

Consider public transportation. You wait at a bus stop, consulting the live display to see how long the next bus will be. You buy a ticket on your mobile phone, showing it to the driver as you board. The driver registers your journey on his touch-screen device. In the bus control centre, an operator tracks the progress of buses through the rush-hour traffic, watching out for potential problems. How many separate sensors and systems are in play in this example? The answer: almost too many to count.

FourC wants its Groovy M2M Cloud System to connect the dots in situations like these. Imagine collecting all the data from all these sensors, devices, computers and then analysing it in the cloud. The system would track using position sensors like GPS and enable “playback” of those, show the location of devices on maps, display statistics, allow configuration on-the-go and more. Such a system also frees the end customer to source solutions from the best provider, not necessarily the one that matches their previous hardware or software.

Trondheim bus map

Sigmund Henningsen, Business Development Manager at FourC, explains the benefits:

“On a bus you have several computers doing exactly what they are meant to do. The problem with that is you develop a system, install it on its own computer and that’s that. In a few years when the client wants new features, the world of dev tools has moved on and you have a problem integrating a new system onto the old system. Maybe they are using different suppliers or even a different operating system.”

“The basic idea of Groovy M2M is to provide the hardware layer, i.e. small computers, with a Linux operating system designed for distributed computers. The system is like VMWare, providing a messaging service to connect to the cloud and other applications. Each application can run in its container independent of other applications. We strongly believe you need to have a system that can handle different applications from different vendors and even Linux and Windows applications side by side.”

What will convince decision-makers isn’t so much the technical solution, but the business benefits of feature-rich asset management for thousands of devices. Automatic rollback, remote console support, one-click application installs, easy beta-testing of updates, faster development cycles, and sales teams who can offer more features and applications for the same hardware, will draw the bean counters to a solution like this.

B2B Marketing

For those marketers out there, FourC offers a great example of vertical marketing, with pages describing the benefits of their platform for different markets such as automotive, home automation, and healthcare and medical.

One of the more interesting potential applications for the Groovy platform is in healthcare, as Henningsen explains:

“Today, automated home technology can give alerts, cut power, cut heat to hobs, but there is little or no collection of data to share reports and spot trends. For example, if the heat to the hobs must be cut every day, then family or healthcare workers should be made aware of it.”

Striking partnerships with software developers will be key to FourC’s success, and I’ll be interested to see if they go after the end customer or take a partner-first approach. I also expect one or two markets to take off and wouldn’t be surprised to see FourC working solely with transport or solely with healthcare in a year or two.

The Groovy M2M platform launches this month.

Photo credit: Steven Kay

Nolan Bushnell
60David Nikel

David NikelFebruary 6, 2015

Founder of Atari Coming to Trondheim

I am thrilled to announce that Nolan Bushnell, founder of the Atari Corporation, will deliver a keynote speech at Technoport 2015.

(Today on Digi.no: Atari-legende til Norge)

Pong video game

Pong

Often cited as the father of the video game industry, Nolan brought Pong, the first-ever video game to market, followed by many other legendary games. He also introduced America to the in-home video game console.

Over the past four decades, Bushnell has been a prolific entrepreneur, founding numerous companies, including:

  • Catalyst Technologies, the first technology incubator
  • Etak, the first car navigation system whose mapping is still the basis for car navigation systems today
  • Androbot, a personal robotics company
  • ByVideo, the first online ordering system, which allowed customers to order and pay for product from kiosks

He also co-created touch screen technology, which is the technology of today’s mobile devices. Today, Nolan is passionate about enhancing and improving the educational process by integrating the latest in brain science and is currently the founder and CEO of his newest project, the educational gaming company, Brainrush.

Hear Nolan Bushnell speak in Trondheim

Nolan will give a keynote speech at the the Technoport 2015 innovation conference. Join us in Trondheim, Norway, on 18 & 19 March as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset.

Photo credit: c0venant

Online advertising
14Hermann Ørn Vidarsson

Hermann Ørn VidarssonFebruary 5, 2015

Why Online Advertising is Nerfed by Google

For quite a few years we have heard about how online marketing is the future.

It gives value to the end consumer by being more relevant and the advertiser can be more targeted in who they want to reach. But right now it’s just not working, and it isn’t the technology that’s the problem.

Buy a plane ticket to Amsterdam and I can guarantee that your internet experience is going to be peppered with ads for KLM for the next couple of days. Book a hotel in London and the same is happening again, my browser is filled to the brim with ads for booking.com and Expedia, with special offers on the hotel I just booked the day before.

It certainly is contextualised, but it doesn’t offer me value. After booking a flight to Amsterdam, adverts for hotels, shows and restaurants in Amsterdam would offer me value.

The problem is the pricing model of Google Adwords and lack of imagination among the advertisers. Google Adwords are auctioned off to the highest bidder. You wish to reach those contemplating a trip to Amsterdam you name the search terms of the people you wish to reach, the price you’re willing to pay and an algorithm at Google picks the lucky winner. I would seem that relevant advertising for the end user is not a factor in this algorithm.

So when I book a ticket to Amsterdam, KLM has defined everyone searching for both ”flights” and ”Amsterdam” and is going to win the bid in the battle for my attention. An amazing restaurant or an art exhibition relevant to an article I commented on in Arstechnica does not have the budget to win such a bidding war.

If online advertising wishes to stay ”friendly” with its audience it needs to fix this.

It needs to be proactive by assuming my next need and give seeding to the advertiser catering to this need.

This could be done by mapping average chains of purchase habits (e.g. people who buy plane tickets usually need hotels)

Pick up social data (four of my Facebook friends bought a ticket to Amsterdam and then bought tickets to a football game)

Or it could match profiles with previous customers and their chain of events (There is a lot of people going to this conference in Haag in this period who also follows Arstechnica, Wired and Fast Company)

Is there an opportunity here for a keen young Norwegian startup?

Photo credit: Paul Townsend

Steve Wozniak
2

Julie MalvikFebruary 3, 2015

Norwegian Students Shooting for the Moon

A shared idea about the future of technology went from a vision to a reality when three Norwegian students got together and founded the company MOON Wearables. The company is created to design and make wearable electronic devices and software applications. The goal: to make life easier for people by giving them beautiful objects they will love to use.

Wearable technology presents the potential for massive transformation in many industries. The more obvious ones include consumer electronics and communications. Early adopter industries include clothing, healthcare, sports and fitness. However, we see many industries adopting wearable technologies as computing and wireless communications integrate wearable into virtually every aspect of product and services.

How can this type of technology improve people’s daily lives?

“Elon Musk once said, “Engineering is the closest thing to magic that exists in the world.”

“We absolutely share his view. And with the rise of the internet-of-things (IoT), we believe the history of engineering and technology is soon facing an inflection point. Where before, most ‘things’ around us have existed as individual cells of technology and engineering, analogous to how computers existed as individual workstations prior to the Internet. Today and going forward, these cells are beginning to be interconnected. The world’s things will begin talking to each other,” Jørgen Veisdal says.

“The currency in this world, as we see it, will be knowledge about the user. Where is he/she? What is he/she doing? Is he/she hungry? Sick? Bored?”

“Utilizing a few simple sensors and microprocessors in conjunction with a few hundred lines of code, MOON and its application can begin making informed predictions about the answers to such questions. Our predictions may then feed into the ecosystem of things around the user, improving his or hers experience.”

“If our app knows that the person is in Trondheim, that the weather is cold and dark, that the user has just walked three kilometers in 25 minutes, and his/her blood sugar is low, these factors may be brought into what the user sees, hears and feels around them. As you walk in the door, your August Smart lock can tell your Sonos sound system to put on some smooth jazz, your light bulbs from LIFX will dim up a calm yellow light, while your Nest sets the thermostat to a soothing 25 degrees. All before the user even has time to take off their shoes,” he says.

An idea born at NTNU

The idea for MOON started two years ago when Jørgen Veisdal began at his graduate degree at Norwegian University of Science and Technology. “A believer in the potential of the-up-and-coming wearable market, I was reviewing the various products in the marketplace trying to understand why some products had been successful and others had failed,” he says.

He tells that this analysis culminates in three key properties, which in his opinion a wearable has to have in order to be successful. “At the time, no products were successfully delivering on all three properties. I still believe that to be the case today.”

The wearable technology market is entering a rapid growth phase. Examples of leading indicators of future wearable technology sales such as Google Trends, cost reduction of the key enabling technologies, increase in functionality that is becoming possible and initial sales of new smart wrist wear such as Apple Watch, and fitness monitors. All show that a very rapid growth is in prospect.

Driven by the arrival of the Apple Watch, which will begin shipping in April according to CEO Tim Cook, the global market for wireless power and charging in wearable applications is set to attain a giant 3,000 percent expansion this year compared to 2014, according to IHS Technology.

Furthermore, there will be a remarkable growth this year for wireless charging in wearable electronic devices. According to statistics on Market Watch the wireless charging in wearables will generate revenue exceeding $1 billion by 2019.

“In choosing which segment of the market we wanted to contribute to, we similarly analyzed what the goals of using any given product may be, and how one might go about trying to achieve such goals. For wearables, this relates mainly to where on the body the device physically sits and what it enables the user to do, that he/she is currently unable to do with a smartphone/tablet,” Jørgen Veisdal says.

“Failing to deliver on either or both of these two properties is, in our opinion, where most wearable vendors get it wrong. When we make product decisions, the final decision always comes down to how it affects one or both of these two factors.”

Goals for 2015

“Ultimately, what we do is build tools that will make people’s lives better. That’s our ultimate goal. When they asked Steve Jobs about how he saw the computer, he would invariably refer to it as the ‘bicycle of the mind’, a tool which enables humans to perform at higher levels than they would be able to without it.”

Veisdal explains, “In our opinion, there have been two such ‘bicycles’ in our industry to date – the personal computer and the smartphone. These were two inventions that truly made people’s lives better in a dramatic way, and largely shaped our modern world. We believe wearable technology has the potential to offer improvements at a similar scale. Our firm’s name was chosen to engrain this belief in our own company culture.”

“We are not spending our twenties building something that aims for incremental improvements. We’re shooting for the MOON.”

In the past few years the wearable technology market has made a huge jump out of the trial and error phase and into the hands of hundreds of thousands of eager consumers, with hundreds of product launches last year alone. With consumers already spending a lot on the product, it should not be surprising that seller competition has skyrocketed.

“We are about to begin manufacturing complete functional prototypes of our device for demo and testing purposes. Because we are building everything in-house, this process is expected to be both comprehensive and time consuming, but we are hopeful that it will culminate in a minimum-viable product by the end of the year.”

“I think it is interesting to talk about motivation. Having followed the technology industry in Silicon Valley like many people may have followed their favorite sport’s teams for over ten years now, we have been dreaming about this opportunity since we were in our early teens. This is it for us,” Veisdal says.

He expresses himself as a dreamer. “In truth, at our core, more than anything we are dreamers. Dreamers work in bits and atoms, trying to create things that we want for ourselves, but that don’t exist around us. In order to do so, in the face of overwhelming odds of failure, putting our hearts, souls on the line, the thing that keeps us going is undoubtedly our passion. The passion we share for what we do.”

“Of course, if such was our goal, there are easier ways for us to make money. We could perfect and license out our circuits and spend our time doing business development instead. It would certainly be a lot cheaper, and we would likely get a lot more sleep while doing so. It’s not magical. It’s not going to make users smile. That’s something I think this country has lost, or maybe never even had, that Silicon Valley is amazing at. Creating user experiences that are so thorough and well thought out that people form an emotional attachment to them. That’s engineering at its finest, and it’s rare.”

Live Crowdfunding
60David Nikel

David NikelFebruary 2, 2015

Live Crowdfunding Experience: Four Startups Announced

The jury has spoken and selected the four startup companies that will compete to sell shares to the public during the Technoport 2015 innovation conference.

As part of Technoport 2015 on the evening of 18 March, four startups will get the opportunity to present their ideas on stage in front of a live audience, competing not just their favour, but for their investment too. The audience is invited to buy available shares in the companies, giving the general public the chance to become an investor.

Last year’s success

Halvor Wold from AssiTech AS knows what it takes to succeed:

“We raised almost NOK 600,000 ($100,000) during last year’s event. It was a crucial part of our subsequent share issue that gave us the capital to further develop our AssiStep product.”

AssiTech is developing a new tool that will make it safer for the elderly and disabled to climb stairs. They were recently named one of the 20 most promising startup companies for 2015 by leading Norwegian technology magazine Teknisk Ukeblad.

“Taking part in the crowdfunding event was very important for us because the production of AssiStep is costly. Moreover we got into “smart money”, meaning that money has come from business people and investors with a large network. This provides new opportunities,” says Wold, who is the CEO and co-founder of AssiTech AS.

Wold believes crowdfunding is here to stay and believes it is a very effective way to reach out to many stakeholders simultaneously.

The Four Participants

Ads want to personalise advertising solutions for TV channels to the individual viewer to generate increased revenues for advertisers. This will be made possible using a software solution developed in collaboration with the College of Nord-Trøndelag and Innovation Norway during 2015. The company plans to take advantage of the increased use of mobile devices to browse TV channels and provide ecommerce directly via streaming.

Apraxim is a spin-off from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. The five former NTNU students have developed the business simulator JetSim to supplement the teaching of economics and accounting. The simulator offers students the opportunity to manage businesses and compete against each other in a virtual marketplace, and to win they must put academic theory from the curriculum into practice. It is web-based and flexible, which means it can be adapted to different finance and accounting topics.

Telemotix have developed a mini computer, Telemotix TAG, which collects information about driver speed, acceleration, braking and more, to build an overall picture of how safe a driver is. This is intended to make car insurance cheaper for motorists and for insurers to avoid the most risky drivers. The company is about to begin a pilot project with one of Scandinavia’s largest insurance companies.

Vepak have developed a prototype machine to automate the filling of 40-litre bags with firewood. The innovation they have developed can pack a sack five times as fast as by hand and just as accurately. The developers have a background in mechanical engineering and mechatronics, as well as personal knowledge from the firewood industry. Vepak is starting to sign agreements with pilot customers.

Stay tuned to be first to hear when the crowdfunding campaigns go live.

Be there and see the action unfold

The Live Crowdfunding Experience is part of the Technoport 2015 conference. Join us in Trondheim, Norway, on 18 & 19 March as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset.