Developing Trondheim’s entrepreneurial scene

Recently Technoport held a small workshop to discuss what is missing from Trondheim’s entrepreneurial scene and what Technoport can do to help fill those gaps. Representatives from Leiv Eiriksson Nyskaping, the NTNU Technology Transfer Office, Entreprenørskolen, DIGS and other interested parties gathered for a session on the high seas (!)

I sat down with Technoport CEO Gøril Forbord and Head of Events Hermann Ørn Vidarsson to find out what they wanted to know, and whether they found out.

Hermann – “as every lean startup thinks, you need to test your hypothesis with the customer. so we are trying to think like that. We wanted to talk to those who represent some of our target groups, in particular startups. The question we posed was simple really – How can our operation, events and activities sustain and support their needs? More specifically, how can we increase commercialisation of knowledge and technology in the region, how can we create a better entrepreneurial ecosystem, and what can Technoport do to support this?”

If you missed the event then don’t worry. It’s likely you’ll have another chance to have your say, as repeating this event on a regular basis was one of the key takeaways, with many participants saying it was their first opportunity to meet some of the other players in Trondheim’s entrepreneurial community.

Hermann – “It’s absolutely the start of something, not just a one-off workshop. We discussed the idea of hosting a quarterly sector meeting to bring all the parties together more often to enhance visibility.”

Goril – “We want to improve and always be relevant for our target groups now and in the future. Their needs could change so we need to continue this discussion to keep ourselves up to date.”

The Technoport workshop boat

On the boat (yes, the venue was a boat. This is Norway, after all!), the participants were split into three groups to discuss the questions in-depth. Here’s what happened!

Lowering the entry barriers to entrepreneurship in Norway

One of the biggest talking points was about bridging the gap from being employed in a big company to entrepreneurship, a problem very specific to Norway where the benefits of employment are so high. But that lead on to some interesting takeaways for Technoport, including a whole new potential target group, the unemployed.

Gøril – “It’s about not only lowering the barriers for the currently employed, but lowering the barriers for anyone who wants to become an entrepreneur. We mean psychological barriers as well as money. We can’t have too many people working on lowering these barriers.”

Hermann – “We haven’t looked at the unemployed as a target group previously, but there is a big need there. In Norway entrepreneurship seems to be a last resort. You need to have lost your job and been applying for jobs for a while before the limited support from Nav becomes available to you.”

Let’s get customers, not investors

One surprise was the focus on getting pilot customers rather than investors. A lot of events already facilitate the meeting of entrepreneurs with investors, but relatively little information is out there about getting your first sales. This touches on the excellent talk from Jonas Kjellberg, former VP of Global Sales at Skype, which is well worth a watch:

Specific to Trondheim

Creating meeting places, social get-togethers and the importance of making the entrepreneurship environment visible were the main takeaways specific to Trondheim.

Hermann – “All three groups were in unison that the Technoport conference should remain an international event, but we should host smaller events with a local focus throughout the year.”

Gøril – “One of the most surprising responses was that people wanted to hear more failures than success stories, so maybe we need to have a new celebration of failures here in Trondheim. It’s harder to find these stories, but maybe that’s one of the jobs it’s important for us to do.”

Hermann – We continued our theme of open innovation and in my group we talked a lot about the need for openness and the sharing culture to succeed with innovation. We talked about creating a bank of ideas that people have but don’t have the resources to implement themselves. Of course if you publish an idea there, you waive the rights to the idea. This is something we’d like to look at developing.”

What’s next?

In total, Technoport recorded 14 clear action points from the workshop. Over the summer, all these points will be looked at and some developed further. Join our newsletter for updates and to be notified when future workshops and events will take place.