Innovation News

Keep up to date will all the latest innovation news from Norway and around the world.

Web Summit
3Marie Jacobsen Lauvås

Marie Jacobsen LauvåsNovember 11, 2014

How today’s women empower in the tech community

“Booth babes are strictly prohibited”, I read in the information booklet in advance of our exhibition at one of the worlds biggest web conferences – the Web SUMMIT 2014.

Part of me was surprised that this information explicitly needed to be inked and part of me got a deeper feeling of why it still is important for women to stick together in the tech community.

Peering at the speaker stage in between of all the men blocking my view I could barely get a glimpse of the actress Eva Longloria as she looked at the crowd and spoke: “I can see there are a few women here. There aren’t many women in the tech space, thus you should all be mentors to other women!”

With only 15% female speakers at the conference it reminded me of seeing the TV series Silicon Valley, illustrating the overpopulation of guys in the IT world. And no wonder the guys where amazed by the girls there, because the girls attending were strong and passionate women with guts. And when we met we supported each other by sharing thoughts, network and best practice. I also met a lot of women building products and services for other women, yet there were so few of us.

So, what would it look like if women were in majority?

“In tech we are the minority and it is always the minority that gets the hard time”, software engineer Louise Deason expressed in Wired Magazine 5th of August 2014, referring to the female population in the tech industry.

Maybe this is the reason why one girl, named Sarah Lamb, said she was tired of being the only woman attending technical events in London August 2005. Sarah founded what is called Girl Geek Dinners (GGD), an informal organization that promotes women in the IT industry. She might have been alone at the time, but today – 9 years later – the organization spans more than 24 countries and 80 cities all across the globe!

Girl Geek Dinners

Sarah, as many other girls in the tech industry, had lots of nice male colleagues to discuss techy stuff with. What she did not have was a meeting place where she could discuss geeky tech stuff with girls – where girls were in majority!

With Girl Geek Dinners she decided to challenge the traditional gender balance at informal tech events. She would not exclude men from attending events and she would still like both women and men on the stage. Instead she introduced the traditional dating principle inverted. Any man could attend, but only as a formal invited guest of female attendees. This would ensure that women were never outnumbered at an event.

With the GGD initiative more girls than ever before have joined the tech event space. Apart from the rules of gender balance there is not much that differentiates the concept from any other IT meetup or tech event. Thus there must be something in the “girl power” movement that has drawn women to these meeting places.

The “waterhole”

“Net Girls” is another global organization for women working in IT and infrastructure. It is an informal organization without a website and the purpose is to create a waterhole where no men are allowed. A place where women in tech can support each other and reflect upon challenges in a high tech space.

Emilie Carlsson, Marketing Manager at MediaTek Labs, whom which I met on my plane heading back home, told how the initiative first started: “In the beginning the Net Girls got together to make the environment more secure because the men where hitting on them all the time sending sexist comments. At a conference with 80 people, there was a Ted Talk and I had a talk myself. A question I got was: are you married? You are very pretty, so if not I will marry you. My first thought was: what am I wearing? Something that has encouraged them to say so? This would never have been acceptable to say to a man. And I think it is even harder for younger women, because you don’t know where the limits should lie and how to react”.

Like me, Emilie had also been exhibiting at the Web SUMMIT and she had been busy talking with thousands of people at the MediaTek booth. Still, she had noticed there were no female speakers at the Machine SUMMIT stage this year. There might be something to the “mentor” message. As there are so few women in the tech space it is our job to be visible and speak up. Thus we need to celebrate all the great initiatives and support each other when we do so!

A celebration of the female tech geek!

On 12 November, Girl Geek Dinners in my hometown Trondheim celebrates its one-year anniversary. GGD Trondheim has managed to build a society that one year later has inspired more than 400 girl geeks, which is quite good relative to the size of the city.

As a tech female I have experienced lots of strong and brave women speaking up at conferences and in the innovation space, and the females are growing in numbers year by year. I believe we should celebrate anyone that accomplishes great stuff in the tech community, be it a man or a woman. However, I feel sure that the female communities help build stronger ties and support between women entering the tech space, thus growing stronger day by day. It is all about supporting and encouraging girls when they think tech is fun, and we need more of it – much more!

Teamwork at Startup Weekend Trondheim
60David Nikel

David NikelNovember 3, 2014

Why attend Startup Weekend Trondheim?

Technoport is again a proud sponsor of Startup Weekend Trondheim, to be held at DIGS from 7-9 November. We are fully behind the initiative for one simple reason: it provides an open, inclusive environment to get your hands dirty, build and test your ideas, instead of just talking about them!

I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in several Startup Weekends back in Oslo, including a memorable editions for Norwegian veterans. I’ve also interviewed winners from Stavanger and Bergen, and ducked my head into the Trondheim event earlier this year. With this experience, I’ve put together a quick list of why you should attend Startup Weekend Trondheim:

1. Don’t just talk – build and test your big idea

Do you have a business idea? Of course you do! We all do.

The difference between those of us who have an idea and those of us who run successful businesses is really quite simple – action.

If you’re a graphic designer with a great idea for an app, you’re never going to make progress without the help of developers. If you’re a businesswoman with an idea for disrupting your industry, you need developers, designers and mentors to make it happen, or it will forever remain just an idea.

You get the point, I’m sure. Startup Weekend allows you to pitch your idea to a talented group of like-minded people, and gives you the tools and time to put that idea into action. Many teams of people – often people that met for the first time on the Friday night – are so focused on turning a great idea into reality that they create a working prototype for the presentations on Sunday night.

Don’t let your idea gather dust, make it happen at Startup Weekend Trondheim.

2. Learn a new skill

I’ve seen many people come to Startup Weekend primarily to learn a new programming language, and some to even learn to program! Some businesspeople want to hone their technical ability, whereas many developers want to improve their business acumen or marketing sills. Some students of entrepreneurship simply want to practice the processes of pitching and honing in on a winning idea.

Your teammates and mentors will provide a valuable resource from which you can learn. You may even uncover a hidden talent you never knew you had!

3. Create a job

Globally, the Startup Weekend concept has created countless real companies. Even here in Norway, the event sprouted social playlist and music discovery service Soundrop, who secured a $3m investment from Northzone just 18 months after winning Startup Weekend Oslo.

Over in the USA, dog-sitter match-up service Rover came out of Seattle, while the Kansas event produced Truckily, an automated marketing platform for food truck owners.

4. Meet a co-founder

Even if your idea doesn’t win and you choose not to continue it after the weekend, you may choose to continue working with your team on another idea. Or people from another team that you networked with during the event. Or even a mentor! Startup Weekends are fertile ground for meeting co-founders. Come and see for yourself.

5. Make friends, have fun

This last point is perhaps the most important of all. Yes the weekend is devoted to developing business ideas from initial idea to proven prototype, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun along the way! Communal meals and the post-weekend party are great places to network, meet like-minded people, and have some fun.

Startup Weekend Trondheim

Book your ticket to Startup Weekend Trondheim now.

See you there!

Trondheim Developer Conference 2014
60David Nikel

David NikelOctober 28, 2014

Startups at Trondheim Developer Conference

Everyone who is anyone in Trondheim’s technology scene gathered at the Clarion Hotel on Brattøya yesterday for the annual Trondheim Developer Conference. Keynotes from JSON-founder Douglas Crockford of Yahoo and PayPal fame and “creativity evangelist” Denise Jacobs surrounded a packed schedule of talks, ranging from building a cross-platform mobile backend in Azure to an introduction to Bluetooth Low Energy.

Opening of TDC 2014

Exhibition at TDC 2014

But it was also an opportunity for several of Trondheim’s startups to exhibit to the 600 attendees, alongside the likes of Microsoft, Evry and Bouvet.

Cloudure logoCloudure offers cloud hosting geared to the needs of the local Norwegian market and was described by one of the organisers as “one of the hottest companies in Trondheim right now”.

Founder Jørgen Aschim Forsell said, “TDC is for the Trønder-community a long-awaited lift. Networking wise it’s awesome.”

“As a startup, we were extremely grateful for the opportunity to present our service directly to the community that could end up using it. We got a lot of good feedback on our service, got to know a lot of new people and ended up with several solid leads.”

Found logoFound offers a fully hosted SaaS solution for the open-source elastic search technology.

First exhibiting as a startup two years ago, Found has grown its customer base quickly outside of Norway, counting the New York Public Library among their many customers. Their business model is one that many companies in the USA are finding success with, something I’ll probably explore more in a future post.

SuperEgo logoSuperEgo has a simple aim. “We want to help people”, says CEO Odd Joachim Aschim.

To do this, they develop apps such as “Stop self-injury” and “Stop bullying me”, designed to offer help to the user exactly when they need it. The app aimed at stopping self-harming allows the user to record and store supportive messages from themselves, their loved ones, or therapist.

FourCFourC is barely a year old but the combined experience of its founders totals decades.

The company provides a future-proof, open infrastructure system platform for huge-scale M2M and IoT deployments. They offer a cloud product to manage your systems along with software to install on each distributed device.

Koosli logoKoosli is a search engine under development, with an emphasis on people and privacy. Coming soon…

There were plenty more companies on display of course, but these ones specifically caught my eye.

TDC founder Save Asmervik was thrilled with the turnout, which has consistently grown each year since the first event in 2012.

“It’s a real local event. The attendance is 90% from Trondheim, and most of the other 10% are external speakers”, he said.

“For next year we hope to get more students involved as there are over 2,000 studying Computer Science and related subjects here in Trondheim.”

Asmervik also told me he’s looking to increase the number of local startups exhibiting next year. Of course, it’s important to keep the quality level high (quality over quantity all day long) but with the number of emerging startups from NTNU’s School of Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer Office, this should be achievable.

Programming conference in Trondheim

Exhibition hall at TDC

Photo credits: Ina H. Stenvig, TDC

NTNU Success Stories
60David Nikel

David NikelOctober 23, 2014

Technoport 2015 for Researchers

It’s hard to disagree – producing world-class research is one thing Norway does really well.

Here in Trondheim, NTNU (the Norwegian University for Science and Technology) turns out world-class research almost on a daily basis. In case you missed it, brain researchers May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser from NTNU’s Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of the “internal-GPS” of humans.

Both NTNU’s Technology Transfer Office and SINTEF’s Sinvent help to commercialise some of the most valuable research Trondheim has to offer and turn it into viable businesses.

in Bergen, two researchers from Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen received international media coverage after discovering that a specific cancer medicine can also be used to help fight chronic fatigue syndrome. Their discovery could lead to a whole different approach of fighting the illness. Behind the scenes, Bergen Teknologioverføring supported the project through patenting, dialogue with industry, and international media work, as it does with projects from seven other institutes across Bergen.

Norinnova Technology Transfer offers commercialisation services within the field of research-based innovation, primarily to the University of Tromsø (UiT), the University Hospital of Northern Norway (UNN) and the Northern Research Institute (Norut). Since 1993, Norrinova has been involved in the development of 80 companies, creating hundreds of jobs for the region.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

However, outside of these technology transfer programs, it can be difficult for researchers to understand the commercial value of their projects, obtain market information, or make contacts in relevant industries. There is still a gap between research and industry and this is where Technoport 2015 can help.

Meet, share & innovate

The Technoport 2015 innovation conference (18 & 19 March 2015) is a venue where researchers like you can meet industry innovators and early adopters, build your network and get a business perspective on your research at an early stage.

To encourage you to attend and get the most out of the event, we are offering a limited number of early-bird researcher tickets for just 500 kroner. The full-price ticket will be 3.000 kroner, so booking your ticket now represents a substantial saving.

See you there!

Buy Now

Startup Weekend Oslo
60David Nikel

David NikelOctober 14, 2014

Startup Weekend: From Oslo to Trondheim

Anyone who’s anyone in the technology world is in Oslo right now for Oslo Innovation Week. How better to kick off the week celebrating the very best of Norwegian innovations than with a Startup Weekend?

The Oslo event is now well-established among entrepreneurs, developers and designers, but this, the 10th edition, still attracted a healthy mix of experienced and first-time attendees. In particular, there were over 10 designers in attendance, a skill-set often in short supply at Startup Weekends.

The top three ideas were an app for eliminating queues from tourist attractions, a virtual graffiti wall for location-based check-ins and a food market allowing local farmers to sell niche produce. The latter was one of three pitches related to food (perhaps they read this article on why now is the perfect time to start a food startup!) while others involved hardware. It was refreshing to see a good mix of ideas.

The facilitator Kathleen Fritzsche, co-founder of Accelerate Stuttgart, was thrilled with the success of the event and in particular how the teams did their homework:

“The teams did a great job on customer validation. Most attended the workshop on business model canvas where they learned the basics and then put it into action. You could really tell from the final pitches they had done the validation work talking to customers, and some even pivoted based on customer feedback from real people. It’s so important to do that and it’s a very important learning process for the team. So much better than sitting alone working all weekend without asking anyone for feedback!”

Does this sound like something you’d like to have a go at? Well, now is your chance!

From Oslo to Trondheim

Startup Weekend TrondheimOslo passes the Startup Weekend Norway baton on to Trondheim for our event from 7-9 November. Tickets are now available here for the event.

Startup Weekend Trondheim, sponsored by Technoport, will connect you to like-minded people who believe in creating a better world through innovation and making things happen. Whether you’re a student or have been working as a developer, designer, marketer, or entrepreneur for several years, Startup Weekend will spark something very special inside of you!

People with ideas (you don’t need one!) pitch on the Friday night, after which teams are formed. Those teams then work to develop their idea in just 48 hours, ready for a final pitch battle on Sunday night. Many teams go on to continue their projects after the weekend, and some have even built multi-million dollar companies as a direct result of Startup Weekend.

You might end up working through the night.

You might get tired.

But you will make new friends, new business contacts and have an experience like no other!

Read more and register now.

Manifestasjon 2014
4Gøril Forbord

Gøril ForbordOctober 10, 2014

Technology Optimism and Touching Awards

“We must ensure that the different innovation environments collaborate and meet more”, said HRH Crown Prince Haakon as he opened the Manifestasjon 2014 business conference.

Technoport’s representative paid extra special attention to HRH Crown Prince’s request. We now look forward to 18 & 19 March next year for our very own #technoport15, one arena where the main purpose is that innovators will meet.

A commitment to the development of a green, global world economy, and innovation and entrepreneurship as a tool for realizing this were the foundations of Crown Prince Haakon’s speech.

“We need a strong commitment to research, and support for innovation and entrepreneurship. The big shift we are going through, and that much of the development must be about, is the big transition to renewable energy”, he stressed.

A technology optimist

Crown Prince Haakon emphasised that rich countries like Norway must go ahead and take the risk and cost associated with developing new technologies that will give us a green, global economy.

“I am a technology optimist. I have always believed that technology will go ahead and give people the products we really want – and that makes us environmentally friendly shoppers, without the consumer necessarily have to be consciously driven by idealism”, told the Crown Prince, before he revealed he has a preference for a certain type of electric vehicle.

“I’m a big fan of raw electric cars and the cars that people want because they are the best and toughest; not because they feel an obligation to buy one of these green cars.”

Touching awards

The theme of this year’s Manifestasjon was the commercialization of technology, one of two strategic areas of focus for the Chamber of Commerce in Trondheim.

Over 700 managers and key personnel in the Trondheim region’s business and community leaders attended Manifestasjon 2014 There was a good atmosphere, interesting lectures and extremely good “mingle factor”.

Prizegivings have a tendency to touch yours truly. It was in this respect a busy evening when both the distribution of total 1 million in Adolf Øyens start-up grants to ThermaSIC, BeatStac and AssiTech and a very well deserved Madame-Beyer Award for Chamber of Commerce manager, Berit Rian, produced tears in my eyes.

Crown Prince Haakon

See also: Imponerte kronprinsen med «rullator i trapp» (Byavisa)

Photo credit: Gry Karin Stimo / Næringsforeningen

eMax Norge 2014
60David Nikel

David NikelSeptember 13, 2014

Young entrepreneurship: Is Emax the answer?

Last month I had the pleasure of attending Emax Norge, an initiative designed to inspire young people into entrepreneurship. The event was supported and organised by Innovation Norway, who were keen to hear my thoughts. Here they are…

First up, there’s plenty to be done in this area. I’m in no doubt that a lot of young Norwegians view entrepreneurship as risky, exciting, lucrative, potentially life-changing… but it just isn’t for them.

Why? It’s simple.

Getting a job and then keeping that job is just so easy in Norway. The huge public sector and skills shortage in the energy industry means that well-paid jobs are not difficult to come by for qualified young people. Add to that some of the best working conditions anywhere in the world, and the fact it’s almost impossible to be sacked, and you can see why even talented wannabe entrepreneurs choose the safety net of Norwegian employment.

Of course, I’m not saying the working conditions in Norway are a bad thing: but there has to be an acceptance that they make it difficult to promote entrepreneurship as a realistic alternative.

The eMax approach

So it was with great interest that I took the train down to Lillehammer to join the preparations for eMax Norge 2014. First on the agenda was to find out what eMax was all about, so I spoke to Janis Lancereau, the founder of the concept.

“eMax is an idea I had when I met a lot of young people in the 1990s when I was working with entrepreneurship in Sweden. I realised there were many good young entrepreneurs but they were isolated. I wanted to arrange a meeting place for them to meet others with similar skills. So in 2002 I started eMax Sweden. It was a quite provocative thought at the time, but it was recognised early on by the Nordic Council of Ministers, who helped to quickly turn eMax into a Nordic event with participants from across Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.”

Because of changing policies the other countries pulled out, so Innovation Norway decided to put the event on themselves. This is the third year of eMax Norge.”

The idea is straightforward. Young people apply and those who are accepted spend a few days together in Lillehammer, away from distractions, to develop skills, share ideas and build their own networks. It works fantastically well. As I awoke the next day at 7am and opened the curtains, I saw a group of four guys, who’d only met the night before, returning from an early-morning run. The enthusiasm of every single participant was incredible.

Play business or real business?

Central to the event is the business simulation game, which gave teams a chance to set strategy to meet given goals. The scenario was based on a telecoms company that spread itself across multiple markets and business units.

Business simulation game

Business simulation games have their place, but for me that place is in high school or on a business degree course. The participants ranged from 18 to 25 years-old, and I know many 25 year olds who’ve already built successful businesses.

I’m a huge fan of the learning by doing concept so successfully taken on by Startup Weekend. I’ve seen successful events across Norway produce some genuine success stories. The events are always popular with students of business and entrepreneurship as they allow theory to be put into practice in just 48 hours.

That’s not to say the participants didn’t get a lot out of the business simulation event. They all seemed to enjoy it, and for the lucky few who won the trip to China, it was a potentially life-changing activity.

Most participants already seemed committed to the idea of entrepreneurship as an alternative career path, so it seemed a shame to spend time on a game rather than something real. If the business simulation game continues, I would like to see a wider variety of students and young people, not already convinced about entrepreneurship. But of course, finding them and convincing them to attend is a whole different ball game!

Inspiring young people into entrepreneurship

Anita Krohn Traaseth, new CEO of Innovation Norway, has a tough job ahead to ensure entrepreneurship can compete with the high salaries and job security of permanent employment. Events like eMax can definitely play a part, but they must be well targeted to meet the specific needs of the Norwegian environment.

photo by DISSING+WEITLING architecture
14Hermann Ørn Vidarsson

Hermann Ørn VidarssonSeptember 8, 2014

Help us solve it

Share the Problem: Transnova

It’s time to share a new problem. This time the future of Trondheim’s transport system needs new thoughts. The Norwegian infrastructure strategy is painted out in a document called Nasjonal transportplan (crudely translated to National plan of Transport). This strategy stipulates that all increase in personel transportation should be done by mass transit or other environmental friendly means like bicycling or walking. To examplify; a city which 10% the of trips are done with the help of mass transit, by bicycle or on foot. This share need to grow to 35% by 2040 to handle the expected increase in transportation needs. That’s a 250% increase in 25 years.

On the 2nd of October we invite you to a Share the Problem on this issue. It is a complicated issue that we won’t completely solve during the 6-hour workshop, but our intention is to describe it, inspire different ways to approach it, and hopefully share a more complete understanding of the problem. Who knows, we might plant the seed of a solution that germinates further down the path of time.

We are in the process of recruiting a diverse room of solvers for the workshop. As one looks for new thoughts, new heads to think them thruogh is often a good idea. So besides curiosity and an internal drive for solutions we ask for little or no previous knowledge of the field. In fact we will start the session with a couple of speakers to paint the backdrop.

These are

Erlend Solem. Fylkesdirektør for samferdsel i Sør-Trøndelag Fylkeskommune (head of transport in the regional municipality.) Erlend has been working with transportation issues in the region and nationwide for over a decade.

Steen Savery Trojaborg. Partner Architect at Dissing Weitling.
Steen is the architectural firm’s partner in charge of «Cykelslangen» a new bike-bridge in central Copenhagen and a contributor to the Copenhagen Cycling Environment.
A city that aims to be the Cycling capital of the World

Guro Berge. Sociologist and Senior advisor at the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA)
Guro has worked with travel habits and sustainable transport in both NPRA and The Institute of Transport Economics
She has led multiple research projects and programs, is the director of the development of a national pedestrian strategy and is on the Advisers board of Transnova.

The workshop will be held at DIGS on the 2nd of October. form 10:00-16:00 followed by a short social event with something to drink and bite into.
To register your participation, please go to this site.

Children at the Maker Faire
60David Nikel

David NikelSeptember 4, 2014

Made in Trondheim

Last weekend the world’s attention, at least from the maker community, fell on Trondheim as a featured Maker Faire was held in Norway’s technology capital. The featured faires are usually reserved for places the size of Tokyo, Paris and Shenzhen, so to hold such an event in a town as small as Trondheim was a risk. But it paid off, big time, as Trondheim’s emerging maker movement put on a show that dazzled the crowds on the market square. Thankfully, the weather played its part too.

Trondheim Maker Faire 2014

Waiting for the bus

The fun began before the weekend, with a Bus Stop Pac Man installed, via a Raspberry Pi running RetroPie and a modified Makey Makey. And a bus stop, of course.

“Because the controls needs to be available for the users they need to be somewhat environmentally sealed. Therefore, by using a Makey Makey and some aluminium tape, we created a robust and waterproof “touch” panel on the outside of the booth. The WS2812B led strip is controlled by the Makey Makey, and because it’s open source and Arduino compatible it was easy to modify the source code to also control the led strip based on key strokes” – Ragnar Ranøyen Homb, Norwegian Creations

Nerdy Derby

Trondheim Nerdy DerbyHeld in conjunction with Vitensenteret i Trondheim (Trondheim Science Centre), the Nerdy Derby inspired many, kids and big kids alike. In the Under-16 category, the car designed by Jonas Sæther was quickest (2744 milliseconds), while in the big kids category, the car designed by Joachim Arntzen (and his 8 year-old son, to be fair!) was fastest (2687 milliseconds). Other prizes were given for imagination and implementation, but of course the Nerdy Derby wasn’t about prizes.

Stop. Look. Listen.

Coworking space DIGS held a series of talks throughout the weekend. Masakazu Takasu from Tokyo-based ultra-technologist group TeamLab stole the show with a talk on the intersection of technology, creativity and design. He also published an article about the event in Japanese – Trondheim’s maker movement is going global!

“Don’t think – feeeeeel!”

“Even though the projects were fun, nearly all of them had a deeper meaning. He was really concerned about how to engage with kids and make them more active both physically and mentally, without becoming passive consumers of technology and entertainment. The fun approach of making interactive installations and illustrating possibilities was really interesting. Also, his mindset for doing something else other than Silicon Valley and his pride of representing the Japanese DIY culture was inspiring” – Mats Mathisen, DIGS.

Other talks included Ultimaker’s demonstration of 3D printing and 3D modelling, and the Norwegian Industrial Property Office (Patentstyret) on value-creation elements of the innovation process.

Trondheim Maker Faire at DIGS

Kids getting their hands dirty

Norwegian Creations presented a drawing machine, which allowed people to see the drawings they made on a tablet re-created by machine in front of their eyes. Mads Aasvik talked to MAKE Magazine about the process:

“The machine is interactive so it fits well into the Maker Faire where you don’t just want things on display. We can get kids to come and draw their names and own artwork”

Children aged 10-18 also had the opportunity to work with sensors, data, and programming. The kodeløypa (code track) allowed them to try out programming through Scratch and connect it to robots through the open-source electronics platform Arduino.

Make your own transport

Impossible to miss over the weekend was the presence of multiple forms of home-made transport, many developed by students at NTNU.

46 students at Revolve NTNU designed and built Norway’s first electric racing car, the KOG Arctos R. The car has spun around the legendary Silverstone and Hockenheimring circuits and was on show at the Maker Faire. Also on display was an LS-8 glider from the student organisation NTNU Flyklubb.

Revolve NTNU electric racing car

Trondheim Torvet

Continuing on the transport theme, students from Elektra brought along an underwater ROV and electric long boards with Arduino-powered remote controls, while Tim Jagenberg and his son showed off their Raspberry Pi powered ROV:

“There was constant buzz of kids around, who wanted to try the ROV and steer it into one of the bucket-caves we set up in the pool. Just around closing time a managed to have a quick tour of the other stands. So nice to see all this creativity around, reminds me of the Chaos Communication Camp in 2011″ – Tim Jagenberg

A success?

Frode Halvorsen, one of the brains behind the Maker Faire, is in no doubt about the weekend’s success:

“The response from the makers, participants, partners and others who just were crossing the town square was just overwhelming. Our goal was to attract 5,000 people, but our numbers say 10,000+ people attended across Friday and Saturday. We got all sorts of people; kids from elementary schools around Trondheim, students, parents and old people just passing by. I saw a lot of sparks in people’s eyes, so I think we managed to plant some seeds!”

Pick Up Your Tools and Get Started!

Alasdair Allan from MAKE Magazine closed the event with a passionate rallying call to anyone interested in the concept. It’s also the perfect way to sum up the feelings of everyone involved with the Maker Faire who I spoke to.

“When it comes down to it, making isn’t about the things you make, or the why of it. Why you’re making. It’s about the people that do it. Today you can become a maker of things, today you can change the world. Today you can become part of the next industrial revolution. It’s an amazing time to be alive, to be part of this. You just have to pick up your tools and get started” – Alasdair Allan

Young makers

Photo credits: TrondheimTech, Trondheim Maker Faire

Think global
60David Nikel

David NikelSeptember 1, 2014

Think Global First

On my journey around the coworking spaces, Startup Weekends and other events that make up the Norwegian entrepreneurial scene, I continue to be astounded by the talented people I meet. People with great ideas and the drive to deliver on them and make a real impact.

But so many times I’m saddened to see the entrepreneur restricting themselves to their home market. The population of the world is an estimated 7.1 billion people. Norway’s population is just 5 million, or to put it another way, 0.07% of the world’s population. By focusing your innovative idea on Norway alone, you are missing out on 99.93% of the world.

I get it, I truly do. There is a high average disposable income and the language barrier (which does exist in Norway, despite the high comprehension of English) means it’s easy to replicate a successful business model from elsewhere in the world by just implementing it in Norwegian. But for truly innovative ideas, ideas with the potential to disrupt industries, consider going global first.

Here are some markets to consider.

The United Kingdom

London Heathrow

The rise of low-cost airlines such as Ryanair, Norwegian and Flybe means the UK’s capital is now just as easy to reach from Oslo as any Norwegian city. Think about that for a moment. 65 million people and Europe’s biggest tech startup cluster on your doorstep without any real change in your travel habits or budget.

London’s tech startup scene is centred on the Silicon Roundabout between Hackney and Islington. Cisco, Facebook, Google, Intel and McKinsey & Company have all invested in the area to help create Tech City, an umbrella organisation driving the area’s growth.

Tech hangouts and coworking spaces litter London, offering space to network and a calendar of events all year round. The Trampery, Soho Collective, and TechSpace are just some to check out. As for the type of startups that can succeed in London, a recent “Tech City pulse” survey revealed the following breakdown of London’s digital economy:

London Tech City breakdown

One success story of using London as a platform for growth is the game-like educational tool Kahoot from Mobitroll, originally developed at NTNU.

Silicon Valley

Palo Alto

Not a market in itself, but Silicon Valley gives you access to one of the biggest markets of them all: the USA, and of course, venture capital money, but it’s notoriously difficult to get noticed amid the ever-increasing number of wannabes. However, if you are serious about targeting the US, there are ways in.

Innovation Norway operate the TINC program a couple of time a year, offering 10 Norwegian companies a unique business development and networking opportunity in the heart of the Valley. Keep your eyes peeled on the Innovation House blog for news.

Another networking organisation worth tuning into is Silicon Vikings, who boast 5,000 members and publish a Twitter news feed of goings on from the Nordic involvement in the Valley.

Successful Norwegian companies with a foot (or more!) in this corner of California include the collaborative video creation software WeVideo, the gesture recognition system of Elliptic Labs, and identity management innovators ForgeRock.

Will you take the advice of serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist Jon Medved and get your butt over to the US?

China

Shanghai, China

The UK and USA are relatively easy to do business with as a Norwegian due to shared language and, to a certain extent, culture. Neither can be said for the world’s second-largest economy and home to over 1 billion people, China. Although the risks may be high, but the rewards of looking east are potentially enormous.

Now far more than the “workshop of the world”, China has a lot more to offer than cheap labour or cheap imports from Alibaba. Innovation Norway are attempting to repeat the success of their Silicon Valley operation and have opened Innovation House Shanghai, to connect Norwegian entrepreneurs and SMEs with the relevant networks in China:

“The country faces an historic shift from labor intensive industries to knowledge-based capital-intensive industries and as part of this transformation, the services sector will replace the industrial sector as the pivotal driver of economic growth. The Chinese Government strongly backs the increased openness towards international business and is building a hypermodern infrastructure across the country, surpassing that of many western countries, to facilitate this change. Wages are still relatively low compared to Norway, which also can make business very profitable.”

Spain

Sitges

You may be surprised that I’m suggesting you check out one of Europe’s economic disaster stories, but some enterprising Norwegians are benefiting from the estimated 50,000 Norwegians living and working in Spain.

Several Norwegian entrepreneurs have set up call centres and other business support services in the Canary Islands and areas of high Norwegian population on the mainland. There’s a steady supply of Norwegian speaking staff despite the substantially lower salaries (though still above the Spanish average) because of the attractiveness of the Spanish climate, particularly in the Canaries. Lower salaries of course means the call centres can undercut their competition based in Norway.

Act local, think global

There’s nothing wrong with starting your business in Norway, but plan global from the start. It makes things much easier if and when you decide to expand, and you may be surprised how quickly things develop.

Photo credit: Yuya Sekiguchi